by Ji Hee Yoon
This project discusses the development of an educational conversation agent supporting an initiative I developed called WESTAND, standing for We Emerge Stronger Together And Never Defenseless. The initiative and the agent serves to increase the accessibility of bystander intervention training–offered at no cost by some non-profit organizations but with limited capacity or in B2B settings.
Racism has been and continues to unfortunately be relevant in 2021. According to an analysis by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asians in the U.S. rose by nearly 150 percent as of March 2021 (CSUSB, 2021). Especially in NYC and Los Angeles, hate crimes exploded just from 2020 to 2021, and even more so when looking at 2019 to now. In fact, New York saw anti-Asian hate crimes rising by 833% in just the past year (Yam, 2021). The Black Lives Matter movement continues to fight against injustice, yet multiple accounts of police brutality and other terrible results of systemic racism continue to pervade society today. This is a fight that must be fought until racism is eradicated.
Unfortunately, in many situations of racial harassment (and harassment in general), many victims are subject to the ignorance of the silent bystanders. This report discusses why racism still is a relevant issue, what kind of solutions are there to help mitigate the effects of racism and potentially prevent its escalation, and ultimately discusses WE STAND, an initiative and bot created to help make bystander training more accessible. WE STAND, standing for We Emerge Stronger Together and Never Defenseless, is an initiative built from my hopes of helping make bystander intervention education more accessible, more comfortable, and consequently have more bystanders intervening when witnessing such harassment.
Although this project started as part of a graduate school course, the hope is that the project will continue to be developed so that it could reach as many people as intended and help people help others in need. This project is dedicated to all the victims of hate crimes and all forms of injustice and harassment around the world. We emerge stronger together and never defenseless.