“Stop Asian Hate”
por Mariana de Aranaga
The community “Stop AAPI Hate” (AAPI meaning Asian American Pacific Islander) has published astounding numbers in reference to hate crimes towards Asians in this last year, having received 3,795 reports of Asian discrimination between March 19th 2020 and February 28th 2021. This is due to people associating the COVID virus with the Asian continent and therefore assume all Asians are to blame. Some recent examples of Asians being targeted in these hate crimes as a result of the stigma are a 64 year old Vietnamese grandmother, whom was assaulted and robbed in California; in another case, a 61 year old Filipino man was slashed with a box cutter on a NYC subway; a 91 year old man was caught on camera being thrown to the ground in Chinatown; and more recently, on January 28th, an 84 year old immigrant from Thailand was murdered.
A problem Asians have to face within our culture is a so-called “model minority” myth surrounding them. This means that we perceive a minority group as successful in academic, economic and/or cultural aspects, usually due to the media we consume. In blockbuster movies, for example, the Asian characters are always the overachievers that excel in any activity they participate in without any obstacles. Unfortunately, we translate that to our day to day lives and assume they don’t suffer from racism or hate crimes, as they have been experiencing in higher numbers recently. Another group that suffers from the model minority myth are Jewish people, you probably unconsciously relate them to always being uber rich, and the consequence that this generalization brings is that low-class Jewish people are invisibilized in the media.
The hashtag #StopAsianHate went viral after a gunman opened fire at 3 local spas in Atlanta on March 16th, where 8 people died, six of which were women of Asian descent. As a response to this, hundreds of people protested outside the Georgia state capitol building to demand justice for this hate crime. Asian-American community members say that decades of racism, misogyny and objectification of Asian women played a role in these deadly shootings, and in general all hate crimes against their community. Even though Donald Trump’s administration has been over for a few months now, he still holds a significant amount of the blame, since he called COVID-19 the “China virus” and “Kung flu” on many occasions.
Fortunately, the new president of the US, Joe Biden, has a bit more of a racial perspective. He met with Asian-American leaders in Atlanta on Friday, March 19th, and condemned the shooting, as well as all anti-Asian racism. Biden said, “They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated, harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.” As of right now, the 21 year old gunman Robert Aaron Long is on trial for murder.
As a third person observer, there are a few things to do that can help appease the situation. First of all, speak out against hateful behavior. Many Asian-Americans have decided to keep their heads down or even hide, all out of fear of being attacked by racist people; if you feel safe doing so, you should call these people out on their behaviour. This can go from microaggressions in comments, subtle body language, or even straight up yelling and being aggressive towards someone. Secondly, you can step in to help the victim and ask them what they need; introduce yourself to the victim and make sure they feel safe before you leave the area, or call an authority to do so. Thirdly, report the incident to the AAPI website, these numbers help the community know what is happening and allows this experienced community to support the victim. Fourthly, educate yourself on anti-racism, spend some time reading literature and looking at infographics about the hate that Asian-Americans often receive. Personally, I recommend the book called “A brief timeline of racism against Asians in America”, or the series called “Asian Americans” which are in the first two links down below. Finally, check in on your Asian-American friends, these times bring a heavy psychological strain and having a shoulder to cry on or a helpful hand from a friend can make a big difference.
AAPI website: https://stopaapihate.org/
Stapleton, S. (2021, March 20). ‘Stop Asian hate’: Hundreds demand justice for atlanta victims. Retrieved March 23, 2021, from https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/3/20/stop-asian-hate-hundreds-demand-justice-for-spa-attack-victims-atlanta