By Alex Tao and Jocelyn Lam
“F— you Asians,” “Go back to whatever f—— Asian country you’re from”, said a San Francisco Tech CEO to Jordan Chan’s family while they were celebrating a birthday on the Fourth of July this year. The family, very shaken from the ordeal, noted that although they had faced racism in the past, this particular incident was on another scale. The last 6 months have shaken America to its core, unearthing much deep-seeded racism against minority groups with Asian Americans becoming one of the largest targets for hate. Back in March, when the coronavirus was becoming widespread throughout America, the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council launched a hate crime reporting website in California for victims of race-based violence and verbal harassment. Of the 832 self-reported incidents of hate crimes and discrimination, the website marked 81 reports of physical assault and 64 potential violations of civil rights in California. These reports, along with media coverage of unprovoked racist tirades and even the burning of an 80-year-old woman in New York, paint a scary picture of the danger that confronts millions of Asian Americans today.
From being spat on, told to “go back to your country”, to being sprayed with water, many Asian Americans have come forward in recent times with stories of their racist and xenophobic experiences. Data collected on these incidents show that there is a strong correlation between the increase in hate crimes with public statements given by government officials such as President Trump, with many of the assailants in the attacks parroting Mr. Trump’s “China Virus” term. The racist rhetoric coming from the highest office in the land has created a dangerous environment for Asian Americans. In particular, the wellbeing of elderly Asian Americans has come under significant risk, as many of them do not speak English, which is a restriction when it comes to reporting racist incidents. It must also be noted that the number of cases reported and videos that the media have displayed only begin to scratch the surface of the violence and discrimination perpetrated against minorities since many of the incidents often go unreported.
As COVID-19 spread worldwide, and different countries began taking preventative measures to stop the spread, the head of America’s government only stood back and watched. In multiple interviews and public announcements, Trump continues to refer to the coronavirus with different names, all shining a dark shadow on the Asian community. The use of terms such as “kung flu” and “Chinese virus” perpetuates the idea that all Asians caused and currently have the virus. Trump’s use of these terms fuels the rising hate crimes against Asians, and his team only stands by with weak defense against it.
While this is not a new topic to the community, it’s an important one to be addressed, as the normalization of racism towards Asians worsens each day. This is present in the everyday microaggressions Asian Americans face, such as assumptions of intelligence due to race, questions such as “where are you really from?”, which takes on the idea that all Asian Americans are foreign-born, and treating the Asian community as second class citizens, ones who don’t belong or hold value compared to Caucasians. On top of this, popular companies will push the idea of casual racism in their products, taking traditional prints and symbols into an “exotic selling point.” Stores such as Urban Outfitters, Shein, and ASOS, have taken traditional prints from Asian culture and used them in their clothing lines. An example used over the decades is the Chinese qipao, popularized in the 1920s for Chinese women in Shanghai. However, the traditional prints and cut of the dress have been taken and cut short, now seen as a little mini dress with an “oriental” print. It demeans the value and culture behind Asian symbols and only continues to grow as more people and companies keep getting with casual racism. This is a worldwide issue that needs to be handled, especially in America. If the U.S. stays on this path to ignore the pandemic and put millions of lives in danger, the hate and racism against Asians will only suffer, as our lives and culture will be put on the line, stripped away without a fight. As Asian Americans, we must remember to take pride in our culture and speak out when we see it being encroached on. To concerned readers with elderly relatives that speak English as a second language, it may be wise to sit them down and discuss courses of action to take if ever faced with a confrontational situation. We must be vigilant in the face of this era and not allow xenophobia to control our lives.
https://www.sun-sentinel.com/opinion/commentary/fl-op-com-lantigua-asian-americans-coronavirus-hate-attacks-20200407-rk7nak2jlbautmnzfd2c2uvbnq-story.html“Get this corona virus chink away from me”
For the 2020-21 season, REACH will be releasing a new blog post written by our officers during the first and third Wednesdays of each month about different aspects of Asian culture, such as pop culture, conflicts faced, representation in media, history, celebration and holidays, and stereotypes. We hope you enjoy reading them!