The AAVMC recently hosted a podcast to raise awareness about the spike in hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander population and to discuss strides the Association of Asian Veterinary Medical Professionals is taking to improve diversity and inclusion within veterinary medicine.
In honor of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges (AAVMC) hosted a special Diversity and Inclusion on Air segment last week. The show focused on the rise in hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population and how the Association of Asian Veterinary Medical Professionals (AAVMP) is promoting diversity and inclusion within the profession.
The podcast, hosted by Lisa Greenhill, MPA, EdD, senior director of institutional research and diversity at AAVMC featured Hira Basit, a Pakistani-American fourth-year veterinary student at the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine and president and cofounder of the AAVMP. Basit offered insight on the continual attacks on AAPI individuals, discussed the goals of the AAVMP, and provided strategies for better supporting AAPI colleagues.
Amid COVID-19, there has been a spike in hate crimes against the AAPI community. In fact, a study examining hate crimes in 16 major US cities revealed that in 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 149%.1
Basit told Greenhill, that veterinary medicine doesn't always provide an escape from this discrimination and harassment, adding that some of her AAPI colleagues have felt victimized, hypervigilant, and silenced in the workplace regarding current anti-Asian incidents they or others have faced.
"I want to say that I'm lucky, in that I am South Asian and I haven’t experienced the same form of discrimination...but you know my heart still goes out to them [other Asian communities] and I still advocate for them as much as I can,” Basit told Greenhill.
Tips for supporting AAPI colleagues
Here are 5 ways Basit says you can support AAPI colleagues.
Pronounce their names correctly (Ask how to pronounce their name if you are unsure.)
Advocate from them or comfort them if you hear a racist or hateful comment.
Validate their struggles.
Be mindful that they are not a model minority and each person is unique.
If you don’t know how to support Asian colleagues, ask them how you can help.
Though not the original intent to launch the AAVMP, the organization founded in April 2020 has provided Asian veterinary professionals and students a platform for voicing their concerns and finding solidarity during these trying times.
A closer look at the AAVMP
The idea for the AAVMP was ignited by Basit’s realization that the AAPI community remains considerably underrepresented in veterinary medicine.
“No colleagues look like me. No professors look like me. I still have yet to in-person meet a South Asian veterinarian,” said Basit.
In addition to this lack of representation, Basit was inspired to encourage other AAPI individuals that pursuing a veterinary profession is attainable and an excellent path. Some of the organization's short-term goals include creating diversity and leadership roles for the AAPI population and breaking the stigma that veterinary medicine is not a successful medical career. Basit’s long-term goals for the organization are forming AAVMP student chapters at each university, achieving international growth, offering scholarships and grants, and more.
Anti-Asian prejudice March 2020 – Center for Study & Hate Extremism. Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism. https://www.csusb.edu/sites/default/files/FACT%20SHEET-%20Anti-Asian%20Hate%202020%203.2.21.pdf. Accessed May 19, 2021.