Last week, the nation was rocked when eight people — six of whom were Asian American women — were killed in Atlanta, Georgia. The attack was undoubtedly a hate crime; the shooter specifically targeted the Asian American community.
The Asian American and Pacific Islander community — especially those of East Asian and Southeast Asian descent — has faced violence and racism for years, with rates increasing greatly after the start of the pandemic. It is high time this ends.
Over a month ago, I wrote an article about how violence against the Asian American community has been on the rise. It is horrifying to see that in the span of a month, attacks against those of Asian descent are continuing in this manner.
According to the California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, in 2020, there were 122 incidents of hate crimes targeting the Asian American community in 16 of the most populous U.S. cities. This is an increase of about 150% when compared to 2019. The city with the highest increase is New York City, where 28 of those hate crimes took place.
“in 2020, there were 122 incidents of hate crimes targeting the Asian American community in 16 of the most populous U.S. cities. This is an increase of about 150% when compared to 2019. The city with the highest increase is New York City, where 28 of those hate crimes took place. “Connecticut State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism
Racism against those of Asian descent is unfortunately not something new in this nation. From the presence of ideas such as the “model minority myth,” which perpetuates the idea that all Asian Americans are successful and don’t have any problems to worry about, to legislation such as the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which prevented Chinese Americans from immigrating to the U.S. and prevented Chinese Americans in the U.S. from seeking a path to citizenship, Asian Americans have faced discrimination and violence to the point of dehumanization.
During the beginning of the pandemic, this racism and xenophobia was constantly perpetuated with the racist rhetoric spilling from former President Donald Trump’s mouth. Even though Trump is no longer in the White House and has no social media platform giving a voice to his lies and bigotry anymore, his enabling of this racism exacerbated and shed light on a problem in this nation that has been present for years.
Enough is enough. The attack in Atlanta was a racially charged hate crime that claimed the lives of eight people. This country has a white supremacy problem, and the increasing rates of violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community is a devastating consequence of it.
Many people of Asian American descent have condemned this violence. Actor Daniel Dae Kim was recently interviewed on the “Today Show,” where he discussed the increasing rates of violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community and urged others to speak about it.
“Those of us in the Asian community have known that these attacks have been going on since last March, and yet those of us who have tried to amplify it have heard it fall onto deaf ears,” Kim said. Kim later testified in front of the U.S. House of Representatives, urging lawmakers to pass bills calling attention to and curbing hate crimes, also calling out Republican lawmakers who, last year, declined to vote on a resolution that condemned anti-Asian sentiments.
“Those of us in the Asian community have known that these attacks have been going on since last March, and yet those of us who have tried to amplify it have heard it fall onto deaf ears.”Daniel Dae Kim, Actor
More people need to speak out about this violence, and concrete change must occur in order to combat this racism and xenophobia. The usual “thoughts and prayers” reaction to violence is not going to fix this nation’s White supremacy problem; hate crimes must be properly dealt with, and those who commit them shouldn’t be excused because they “had a bad day.”
The group “Asian Americans Advancing Justice” recently started a platform to help amplify voices of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. The platform, “Stand Against Hatred,” encouraged the Asian American and Pacific Islander community to share their stories to help educate others and spread awareness regarding racism and xenophobia.
Other organizations have created initiatives to help elderly Asians and Asian Americans who may feel unsafe, as they have been targeted in many attacks; education reform has been discussed and there have been fundraisers for certain anti-xenophobia causes.
In addition to the work these organizations have been doing, legislation must be passed in order to prosecute hate crimes more effectively and help those who are victims of them. The violence against the Asian American and Pacific Islander community cannot continue; real change must occur in order to protect the community and ensure that these violent attacks cease.