Asian Americans have dealt with injustices and hate for over a century. Many have remained silent for a long time, but now the younger generation is coming out and standing up for themselves with the hashtag “Stop Asian Hate”. (Photo credits to Marcela McGreal)
For many people, the COVID-19 pandemic is the worst thing to come out of 2020. People are becoming seriously ill and dying but the one unintended consequence that rose with it is an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, there has been a 149% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans, but overall hate crimes in the United States have dropped 7%.
People on social media are standing up to these racially motivated crimes with the hashtag #stopasianhate. The hashtag has spread like wildfire around the internet, but many people still do not know what went into the creation of the hashtag.
Why are Asian Americans being targeted?
Asian Americans have been scapegoats in times of crisis for over a hundred years.
One of the biggest incidents occurred during World War Two. Japanese Americans were put into internment camps because many Americans believed that they were spying on America for Japan. These citizens posed no threat but the government used them as a scapegoat because citizens were afraid and hysterical.
Potentially the biggest factor that has contributed to the increase in hate crime today is the Coronavirus pandemic. All across America, Chinese Americans are being blamed for the virus just because it first began in Wuhan, China.
The worst part is that it is not only Chinese Americans experiencing this prejudice. Many people are too blinded by hate to take the time to even figure out if the person they are targeting is of Chinese descent, so all Asian Americans are being lumped into this hatred.
Former President Donald Trump also helped contribute to this blaming of Asian Americans.
Trump called the virus a variety of offensive names during his time in office including “China Virus” and “Kung Flu”. Many Americans called Trump out for the offense term, but he stood by his claims. “There’s a clear correlation between President Trump’s incendiary comments, his insistence on using the term ‘Chinese virus’ and the subsequent hate speech spread on social media and the hate violence directed towards us,” said Russell Jeung, a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and a professor of Asian American Studies at San Francisco State University to TIME.
Ever since the pandemic began, there has been a significant increase in crimes against Asian Americans, but in the last two months, there has been another increase.
Earlier in the year, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee left his house for a morning walk. About an hour later, he was violently slammed to the ground by a young man charging at him full speed. He was knocked unconscious and brought to the hospital, but unfortunately died of a brain hemorrhage two days later.
Two days later, 19-year-old Antoine Watson was arrested for the crime on charges of murder and elder abuse.
A few weeks before Ratanpakdee was attacked, a young man attacked 61-year-old Noel Quintana on the New York subway system. Quintana noticed an emotionally disturbed man on the subway car kicking a backpack and he kindly asked him to stop. The man attacked Quintana and slashed his face with a box cutter and fled when the subway stopped. “I was scared because I thought I was gonna die and nobody helped me,” Quintana said to ABC.
Quintana was treated at Bellevue Hospital and NYPD is currently searching for the attacker.
Back in January, a 91-year-old man was shoved into the concrete in Chinatown in Oakland, California. Two more similar incidents followed this attack until the suspect was finally apprehended. His name is Yahya Muslim and he is charged with three accounts of assault.
What’s being done to end this?
Now almost a year into the pandemic #StopAsianHate was created. The purpose of the hashtag is to call attention to what is happening to Asian Americans and create mainstream media coverage of the crimes that are occurring.
When the string of attacks began in Oakland, Daniel Dae Kim and Daniel Wu offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest. “We must do more to help the literally 1000’s of Americans who have suffered at the hands of this senseless violence” Wu wrote on Twitter.
A coalition created at the beginning of the pandemic called Stop AAPI Hate is aimed at addressing the discrimination within the Asian community during this pandemic. They create awareness by sharing the first-hand reports they receive with the general public. These reports create accurate but horrific statistics about how Asian Americans are treated in America. The worst part is that many people will not pay attention to a problem until solid and shocking proof is put right in front of them. So, these statistics are one of the best ways to grab the public’s attention.
Many people will want to shy away from the stark reality of what is happening, but it cannot be ignored any longer. Currently, #StopAsianHate has over 140.2 million views on TikTok, and that number increases by the hour. This Anti-Asian violence has great resources for anyone who wants more information, but it is up to America as a whole to solve this problem.