Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been an astonishing number of social changes and adaptations, for better or worse. One of the most disturbing changes that has developed recently is the alarming amount of open hatred and violent attacks towards Asian-Americans. While some may attribute this influx of bigotry to the virus and its eastern origins, the scarier but more likely reality is that this pandemic has just pushed many Americans to show a hateful, regressive side of themselves. Recent events and gatherings, such as the celebration of the Lunar New Year that brought many Asian-Americans together, have further fanned the flames of this hate-filled wave. Authorities and activists alike agree that hate and violence against Asian communities has been rising over the past few months. This consensus further displays the true, very bleak state of race in the United States.
Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) are communities that advocate against anti-Asian hate. They have recently begun to take further action in response to this growing racism.
Stop AAPI Hate began collecting reports of racism and discrimination among the Asian communities starting inMarch of last year, reporting around 2,800 instances of anti-Asian hate across the country. AAJC tells a similar story, as from 2017-2019 they received around 500 total reports regarding hate against Asian-Americans. However in this past year alone, they have received roughly 3,000 such reports.
To see such a large increase in the reports that have come in makes it clear that hatred and discrimnation are still prevalent in America for all groups of people. According to the New York Police Department, hate crimes towards Asian Americans have risen by more than 1900 percent over the last year in New York. This wave of bigotry across the country cannot be ignored. We are a community with a strong Asian-American presence so it is all the more important we take a stand against this discrimination, for both our national and local population.
However, many have already broken their silence in order to make an effort to reach out and fight against this influx of hate. Activists have been denouncing the hate since early in the pandemic, with the assistance of social media and its ability to share information. Even some authorities have recognized this racism and acted against it. President Biden recently gave an executive order denouncing anti-Asian discrimination. Though this is a positive gesture, it does not nearly make up for the regressive steps taken by the last presidential administration.
There is a correlation between this hate towards Asian-Americans and Former President Donald Trump’s xenophobic rhetoric. Trump consistently referred to Covid-19 as the “Chinese Virus,” placing a misnomered label on both Chinese-Americans and the Asian-American community as a whole. Trump’s actions influenced hoards of supporters to share his ignorant standings and even act on it. Covid-19 has placed stresses and grief on everyone and Trump helped turn that stress and grief, for some, into anger and hatred.
What has also exacerbated this issue is a general perception held by many Americans that the Asian population is not subject to the same struggles as some other minority groups. While the idea that every person from every background does face significantly different struggles from one another is true, the idea that Asian-Americans are somehow exempt from experiencing bigotry is both false and extremely harmful. Notions like this allow discrimination to go unnoticed, as people tend to not give it the same attention.
American racism in general seems to never take a break. With the pandemic and with many families and groups of people struggling, racism has only continued to mutate and take new forms. Earlier in the pandemic, protests rose up across the country advocating against police brutality and pushing the recognition of Black Lives Matter after events like the death of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. These seemed like a glimmer of hope but they largely ended up only further displaying the harsh racial tensions that still persist. Now Asian-Americans are being targeted on a massive scale and the cycle seems to only repeat itself rather than improve. While these issues existed long before Covid-19, the virus has shown just how severe they’ve truly become.
Although there are many groups of people who are completely against this wave of hate and have actively participated in combating it, there is still a lot of work to do. It seems like the United States is a country that will always experience bigotry, as racism is rather an inevitability when dealing with multiple cultures and ethnicities. However, as a society that pushes for progress and justice, we have both the tools and the obligation to keep fighting against these hateful ideologies. That sense of duty and obligation is what our country was founded on; if we continue to ignore it, that may be our downfall.