The rise in anti-Asian hate crimes is happening, and I decided I can’t let this happen.
Part of my identity as an Asian American is speaking out for my community and representing it. Therefore, it’s discouraging to hear news stories about how the majority of the anti-Asian hate crimes are committed by other people of color, not white supremacists.
When I see the pictures of the people who assaulted the next Asian individual, I feel frustration taking hold of me and a deep sensation of sorrow. It makes tears want to pour out of my eyes, seeing my own people being victimized due to racial bias. I read and watch the news, seeing the perpetrators mainly appear to be from other minority groups. This makes me not shocked because these are usually people suffering from a broken system of continuous poverty and racial inequality.
Instead, it is more of a reality check for me to acknowledge that there is so much work that needs to be done in minorities coming together to fight with one another against our common enemy, white nationalism. I agree with the nonprofit AAPI Data’s founder Karthick Ramakrishnan, who expressed concern over how the public’s interpretation of the anti-Asian hate crimes is mainly formed by images projected in news cycles.
For instance, when last summer I watched videos showing a woman mercilessly pushed over by an African-American male, I felt enraged to see another human treated in an unspeakable manner and wanted justice immediately. But I believe this perpetuation of racially based hate crimes is due to the trauma response among people who have experienced such hate — it makes them want to hate others and possibly the perpetration of racially based hate crime.
My reaction as a human was to become enraged that Asian Americans — who worked hard for their success — were being mistreated, but I chose to immediately do research about the effects this pandemic has had on other minorities living in the United States. Doing so made me practice empathy, as I imagined what it would be like to suffer so much bias to the point of being so angry that I would want to hurt others in order to release all of my collected emotions onto another human being. When people who are already so experienced in bias are given the chance to feel superior to another, they are most likely to treat others the same way they have been treated themselves. Or as author and psychologist, Dr. Sandra Wilson once wrote, “hurt people hurt people.”
To read about brutal wounds that the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community faced or watch news stories expressing the hatred circulating toward the Asian community due to COVID-19 originating from Wuhan, China, is daunting. Asian Americans face discrimination and harassment due to racism, which does not have to do with the Chinese government’s actions.
The coronavirus has voluntarily or involuntarily changed life as we know it. Overcoming the negative aspects of this pandemic has changed the attitude of many people, including mine. Seeing so much bias and racism toward Asians and Asian Americans has prompted me to get active — and I want others to join me. I learned how to utilize my time by campaigning on Zoom, being published on other outlets about diverse topics, and growing my platform while in quarantine. Experiencing increasing isolation from my community has caused me to realize how important social media, friendships, and family are — and has prompted me to make further strides toward the changes I wish to see.
I have realized that the two major causes of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders being consistently blamed for the pandemic are solely ignorance and deep-rooted xenophobia. To combat this, minorities must protect each other’s communities and view one another not simply as members of another minority group but as individuals who have gone through racism and bias themselves.
The elected officials who are afraid of the changes happening in America and of the growing racial diversity will try to point out the differences among minority groups to deliberately break the solidarity. It is easier for white elected officials to come out on top with the majority if you can divide the system’s people who aren’t helped.
One could argue that white nationalists commit the majority of anti-Asian hate crimes. However, the fact stands that the most diverse cities in the United States, such as New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco, are experiencing the most anti-Asian hate crimes.
A certain amount of footage showing Black people harming Asians has created a narrative of division among minorities and a sense of racial tension. And, it is low-income minorities who are being most affected by the pandemic. Our fight against bigotry and racism should naturally be united and supported by us as a united front.
People who witness hate crimes in person or on the news can empathize and show up as allies or can continue to be bystanders and do nothing. They either consider it with sympathy because they have been in the same shoes or view the unjust act of violence as an opportunity to hurt others because they feel they have been dealt the worst hand in life.
It is time to be working for a common goal in solidarity for a society that encourages a character-based society, not one that uses stereotyping to measure worth.
Here are organizations to get involved in and work to empower minorities as a whole.
- Stop AAPI Hate to report, address hate crimes, and provide mental health resources for families experiencing bias. There are actions that can be taken to combat anti-Asian hate by donating or volunteering at organizations that advocate for improving policies.
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) is a nonprofit organization working with volunteers to provide legal services and that are working to ensure that the policies are representing Asian Americans.
- NAACP is dedicated to protecting/empowering Black lives. Black Lives Matter and the ACLU are organizations where volunteers can work to make a change.
It will take volunteer work and phone banking officials to pass the Equality Act, stand up for each other, and vote for politicians who have the interest of every community at heart.
There are organizations dedicated to promoting civil rights and getting young people involved. It is up to us to oppose any form of hate and to realize that we have a common enemy — white nationalism. We are not each other’s enemies but a reflection of how far we have progressed. By acknowledging all the marginalized struggles, we can recognize that standing together is the only way to create a more fair society.