By Sue Ra, Communications Intern
For many, 2020 was a difficult and uncertain time due to the detrimental effects of the COVID-19 virus. Countries around the globe were faced with high unemployment, rising number of cases, and a collective feeling of panic. Moreover, the origin of the virus brought about a new epidemic altogether – a marked rise in hate crimes directed at the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. In stunning new evidence, data finds that there have been nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents reported over the past year since the outbreak. These incidents include verbal harassment, shunning, physical assault, and discrimination. Additionally, a poll conducted by USA Today/Ipsos Poll observed that one in four Americans have seen someone blame Asians for the coronavirus epidemic. This recent spike of Asian-targetted hate crimes pose a serious risk to the community on a multifaceted level. The emotional, physical, and mental trauma (on an individual and collective level) of these actions create an added layer of insecurity within the AAPI community.
What Anti-Asian Sentiment Looks Like
Although hate crimes against Asians are becoming increasingly frequent, it has contributed to the visibility surrounding this issue. Hashtags such as “#StopAsianHate” and “#AAPI” on various social media platforms help create awareness and amplify the voices of the Asian American community. Within the microcosm of these hashtags, one can find numerous amounts of news articles, videos, and photos of these assaults. A notable incident that drew international outrage is the recent Atlanta spa shooting. 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long went on a devastating rampage that resulted in the killing of eight people – whom six of the victims were of Asian descent. Others include the various attacks on the elderly, such as 61-year-old Noel Quintana being slashed on the NYC subway and 75-year-old Xiao Zhen Xie physically assaulted in San Francisco. These incidents are only a part of the bigger statistic that make up the totality of race-fueled hate crimes present in America. It is important to mention the role of politics surrounding the discourse of COVID-19 and AAPI hate. Anti-Asian sentiment may have been notoriously perpetuated by then-president Donald J. Trump referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” and “the kung flu”. Although the virus did originate from the small city of Wuhan, China, labelling Chinese people or people of Asian descent in general as responsible for the pandemic is unjustifiable and lacks any form of evidence. Unfortunately, such false allegations made on a worldwide stage have the power to instigate hate and thus threaten the Asian communities worldwide, but especially in the country whose then-president made those allegations. Several news outlets and commentators have pointed out the biases that are associated with calling the virus by their racially-charged nicknames. Studies indicate varied anti-Asian sentiment when using the hashtag “#COVID19” versus ones such as “#Chinesevirus”. It is found that 20% of the hashtags under “#COVID19” display some sort of anti-Asian sentiment compared to 50% under “#Chinesevirus”.
What Can I Do to Make a Difference?
Donate. Whether it is through a nonprofit or GoFundMe, there are various places to help the AAPI community in combating further hate crimes and uplifting the people around them. Here is a thorough list of organizations and individuals to support, and below is a list of a few organizations that do good work and research for AAPI:
● Asian Americans Advancing Justice – With offices located in Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Washington D.C., this organization’s mission revolves around the fight for civil rights through education, litigation, and public policy advocacy.
● Stop AAPI Hate – Created in March 2020, this nonprofit is responsible for tracking and responding to various forms of anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States. They also advocate for local, state and national policies that align with their values regarding the rights of Asian-Americans at large. You can either donate to the website directly or through their GoFundMe.
● Hate is a Virus – Starting as a grassroots movement, this organization has evolved into a nonprofit. Their goal is to “amplify, educate and activate AAPI” and do so by participating in awareness campaigns, dialogue and education, and taking action with trusted community leaders.
● Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund – Founded in 1974, this New York-based organization provides legal services that have major impacts on the Asian-American community. They also provide free multilingual legal advice, educates Asian-Americans on their rights, and trains students in public interest law.
Attend a Protest. Throughout history, protesting has been an effective tool for those who demand change. However, make sure you are prepared for any circumstances when attending one as it can become dangerous.
Support Asian-owned Businesses. Many minority-owned businesses were not included in the Paycheck Protection Program amidst the COVID-related shutdowns. With this in mind, supporting your Asian-owned business both on the local and national level can make a huge difference in the community. Here is a list of 40+ Asian-owned businesses you can shop from today!
Educate. Learning more about the experiences of Asians in America is another step one can take to support the AAPI community. With racism against Asians not being a new concept, efforts in learning more about the country’s painful history can create new perspectives that can turn into well-needed support and change. NBC News compiled a list of resources that include books, podcasts, documentaries and more that helps others understand the complex history.