Written by Andrea Sison and Rebekah Joe
It is to no surprise when people hear of Asians being successful, but why is that? Asians tend to be looked at at a higher standard, something society constructed and is eventually formed into a norm. Asians are seen to have close proximity to whiteness. With their successes in the economy and society, Asians are seen to have a privilege that minorities do not usually have.
A common argument is tailored in this concept: If “white privilege” is oppressive then why does research show that Asian Americans tend to have higher income and status than most populations. Bill O’Reilly, a conservative commentator, stated in an editorial that Asian household incomes were 20% higher than white household incomes. The question as to why this is his answer was that Asians tend to have a more collectivist culture and education is held at utmost importance. This claim has been used since at least in the 1960s when faced with the challenges the civil rights movements sparked. Newspapers printed portraits of Asian Americans to cast skepticism on the population that was marching for social and economic justice. The Asians were seen as independent, not needing help as other minorities did, they were progressing on their own.
This also ties back in with the model minority myth, which is deeply misunderstood. Yes, Asians are successful but this was not the case when the first immigration happened. The Asian community did not start at the top. Asian Americans were known as laborers with the lowest wages. Over the decades, overcoming poverty, discrimination, and racial violence, Asians climbed and earned their way up the socioeconomic ladder. The success of Asians does not simply show their achievements but also points out that being a minority meant working harder in order to achieve something that a White person could achieve with greater ease and less effort.
Although being well educated and having education as a top priority as a value was made as a point as to how Asians managed to climb their way to success, research suggests that society simply became less racist towards the Asian community. While looking at the progress from 1940 to 1980, even with varying educational accomplishments, the steady closing of the wage gap by Asians was seen, supporting the claim of education not really playing a role in the socioeconomic success of Asians. Racist prejudice was softening after WWII. Asians were being accepted to more institutions and even earning a raise in their wage. Journalists and public opinion shifted as Asians are now being branded and publicized as being hard workers, educationally competent, easy-going, and rarely complains. Opportunities were opened up to them.
However, even looking at the unemployment rates over the past 10 years, we can see the effects of systemic racism and implicit bias. While generally, Asians have a lower unemployment rate compared to other minorities and sometimes even compared to whites, during the coronavirus, those results drastically changed. Whites remained the last impacted by the racism and financial turmoil of COVID-19 while the rates in Asian unemployment shot up. While these rising rates are not fully attributed to the virus, the government’s narrative in blaming a particular race definitely contributed to it.
Nonetheless, Asians were quick to realize in order to survive and achieve the “American Dream” or whatever goal they have, they must be quick to adapt and assimilate. They are quick to pick up certain concepts and change their mindsets, setting them closer to the Whites. Their values and thoughts are now plagued with racist ideas and concepts, remember everyone must be held accountable. Some choose to set their lifestyles in a more similar fashion to the Whites in order to make them feel safe and accumulated to their community. Yes, Asians are discriminated against but this does not mean they have their own outlook on certain individuals as well. They just learned that this is how society works and have integrated it into their own morale. Systemic racism, racism is catered depending on the situation.
GuoBioBio, Jeff Guo closeJeff. “The Real Secret to Asian American Success Was Not Education.” Washington Post, November 19, 2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2016/11/19/the-real-secret-to-asian-american-success-was-not-education/.
Jr, Dae Shik Kim. “Why Be a ‘Model Minority’ When You Could Dismantle White Supremacy?” www.thenation.com, June 30, 2020. https://www.thenation.com/article/society/asian-americans-antiblackness-antiracism/.
Written by Andrea Sison and Rebekah Joe
Starting off with examples, Asian-American students being complemented to having really good English when it is their first language, defensiveness of people when seeing black men, women being cut off conversations by men. These examples may be simple and common but these are actually microaggressions. Although many perceive taking offense by these actions as being overly sensitive, these open up discussions on how much societal ideas truly are integrated into everyday life. Microaggressions happen when people use biases of groups on a person leaving them offended or uncomfortable. These are the common everyday instances of racism, sexism, and more. It can be an insult, a comment, or a gesture. They are subtle, intentional, but oftentimes unintentional ways to communicate to someone with some sort of bias.
Microaggressions are something more than simple jokes and remarks. Microaggression actions come from concepts made in relation to a person’s membership to a marginalized group. Microaggressions were coined because of the insults that were thrown at Black individuals. It then started to be used on other minorities as well.
Although these are called “micro” aggressions, the consequences aren’t small. The frequent occurrence of these can be related to people not realizing that they are taking part in microaggressive rhetoric. Many simply act because of internalized bias. A theme that most have trouble with is color blindness, this is when people refuse to acknowledge race. Although many can see this as a good thing, it really is not that great. This is especially seen with adopted Asian kids with non-Asian parents. “There is only one race, the human race.” “When I look at you, I don’t see color.” Being denied one’s race can also mean being denied one’s culture. When race is disregarded, an identity is not let to be identified. Also, a consequence of this is that when this mindset is set in a family with an adopted kid, not from the same race, then this singles them out. Mostly, this mindset of having no race is just applied to family, once faced with others, race is suddenly a real concrete concept that they base their schemas on. The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office Captain, the one that stated the Atlanta shooter to only be having a “bad day” and has been found sharing racist things on his Facebook, has an adopted Vietnamese brother.
Since this is mostly an unconscious action, one cannot be truly blamed for practicing this. Although this cannot be dismissed. If something says or does something racist and makes you feel uncomfortable then it is what it is, a bad act is a bad act. A step of action is being aware of your personal bias and impact. You can also commit to working on how to minimize the concept of microaggressions. Another way is to establish relationships with others to learn more about their personal stories and cultures. The more we know about different stereotypes, the more your preconceived wall ideas are shattered, and the less you stereotype others. Microaggressions can take a toll on the mental health of the recipients of these microaggressive actions. It can make the school or work environment of the people more hostile as stereotypes integrated more in everyday conversations. The constant stream of insults, even if they are subtle, can add up and greatly affect an individual and lead to unjustified treatment.
Microaggressions encompass many concepts, insults can be based on race, gender, ethnicity, and religion. Microaggressions are made by everyone and are directed to everyone. Let’s take initiative to take responsibility for our actions and rethink the way we think about others, especially with microaggressions.
Chung, Nicole. “What Would My White Family Think about Anti-Asian Racism?” Time, March 22, 2021. https://time.com/5948949/anti-asian-racism-white-adoptive-family/.
DeAngelis, Tori. “Unmasking ‘Racial Micro Aggressions.’” Https://Www.apa.org, 2009. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2009/02/microaggression.
Jenée Desmond-Harris. “What Exactly Is a Microaggression?” Vox. Vox, February 16, 2015. https://www.vox.com/2015/2/16/8031073/what-are-microaggressions.
Limbong, Andrew. “Microaggressions Are a Big Deal: How to Talk Them out and When to Walk Away : Life Kit.” NPR.org, June 9, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/06/08/872371063/microaggressions-are-a-big-deal-how-to-talk-them-out-and-when-to-walk-away.
Sue, Derald, Christina Capodilupo, Gina Torino, Jennifer Bucceri, Aisha Holder, Kevin Nadal, and Marta Esquilin. “APA PsycNet.” psycnet.apa.org, 2007. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2007-07130-001.
Written by Andrea Sison
In light of the pandemic, Asian hate crimes have increased. As COVID-19 was regarded as the “China Virus'' or the “Wuhan Virus,” many took their frustrations out on the Asian community. Although it cannot be wholly attributed to the government’s representation of the Corona Virus, mostly during the first occurence, it did catalyze the hate the AAPI community have received. The surge of the hate crimes happened in March and April of 2020, when COVID-19 started to get worse in America. This has left the Asian community in a constant state of wariness as attacks have been more frequent across the nation.
Everyone in the AAPI community is vulnerable, hate was shown to all ages and gender, elderly were attacked, kids bullied, many generalized Asian people and came to a conclusion that they were the cause of the spread of COVID-19. Although it did originate in China, the surge of cases everywhere cannot be blamed on Asian people. The spread came with the shortcomings of the government and everyone, not many took it seriously until it disrupted their own lives.
In a year’s span, 2019-2020, hate crimes have decreased overall by 7% BUT hate crimes towards Asians have increased by nearly 150%. Nearly 3,800 incidents of Asian hate were reported in 2020, significantly higher from 2019’s 2,600 reports. This data includes reports from March 19, 2020 to February 2021, almost 503 of the reported incidents took place in 2021 alone. 68.1% were verbal harassment, 20.5% were shunning, and the 3rd most common category being 11.1% was physical assault. These incidents included threats, discrimination, and harassment. Research saw a pattern, many targeted the women, the elderly, and the youth, this was concluded as they were the “weak” ones, the vulnerable, an easy target. Another conclusion with having many elderly attacks is because the elderly are now receiving their vaccines and are more often out and about, making them more vulnerable to encounters. Even with the high number of reports many believe that this isn’t all of it, many incidents still go unreported as they are dismissed.
In February 2021 a Chinese man walking home near the neighborhood in Manhattan’s Chinatown was stabbed, the perpetrator was charged with attempted murder but was not considered a hate crime as prosecutors determined that evidence was lacking in order to prove a racist motive. March 17 2021 , An elderly Asian woman in San Francisco was punched in the face. The attacker also attacked another elderly Asian man shortly before this incident. Week of March 7th 2021, an elderly Asian man was killed in Oakland by an ex-convict with a history of “victimizing elderly Asian people”, he was charged with murder. An elderly Asian man was killed in January in San Francison, the perpetrator pleaded not guilty after being charged with murder. March 16 2021 in Atlanta, 8 women were shot, 6 of them being of Asian descent, the attack was not condemened to be racially motivated, the attacker was said to be “having a bad day” and his actions were blamed on “sex addiction.” It was said that the women he killed were “a temptation that he wanted to eliminate,” he was charged with murder but this was also not charged as a hate crime.
In light of recent events, violence against the Asian community has been brought to the frontlines. Anti-Asian discrimination congressional hearing, a rare occurrence, is now held, many are advocating for the stop of hate towards the AAPI community. The recent events led to the voices of Asians being heard and amplified. Many are empowering and encouraging the AAPI community. Racism towards Asians are usually disregarded as it is such a common occurrence, making it a “normal” thing. This can be attributed to the model minority myth and Asians proximity to whiteness (Check out our post about the model minority myth for a deeper take!). Asians are viewed as successful and easygoing individuals, they have everything going for them. “Jokes” on Asians are usually dismissed, as this is not viewed as a racist act, when in reality these ideas are devaluing and limiting Asians. Although being part of the POC community, Asians are seen to be in close proximity with the Whites as society views them to have the same characteristics. Many are successful, economically and socially, with this, Asians are not seen as a vulnerable group, making the dismissal of hate actions towards them all that much easier.
It is time to stop with the generalization. It is time to acknowledge hate targeted to the Asian community. It is time to start with change. Time to speak up. Time to stand up. Stop AAPI hate.
Hayes, Elinor Aspegren, Ryan W. Miller and Christal. “Georgia Spa Shootings: Suspect Officially Charged after 8 People Killed at 3 Businesses; Most Victims Were Asian.” USA TODAY, 17 Mar. 2021, www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2021/03/17/georgia-massage-parlor-shootings-what-we-know-suspect-motive/4728084001/. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.
Hong, Nicole, and Jonah E. Bromwich. “Asian-Americans Are Being Attacked. Why Are Hate Crime Charges so Rare?” The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/2021/03/18/nyregion/asian-hate-crimes.html.
Rio, Giulia McDonnell Nieto del, et al. “Atlanta Shootings Live Updates: Suspect Had Visited Targeted Spas Before, Police Say.” The New York Times, 18 Mar. 2021, www.nytimes.com/live/2021/03/18/us/atlanta-shootings-massage-spa#congress-hearing-asian-american-discrimination. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.
Wilkinson, Joseph. “San Francisco Man Attacks Elderly Asian Woman, Ends up Bloodied and Handcuffed to Stretcher after She Fights Back: Witnesses.” Nydailynews.com, 17 Mar. 2021, www.nydailynews.com/news/national/ny-san-francisco-elderly-asian-woman-attacked-assailant-stretcher-20210318-evcupsl6pnb5jhab4xvghus2ui-story.html. Accessed 19 Mar. 2021.
Yam, Kimmy. “Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Increased by Nearly 150% in 2020, Mostly in N.Y. And L.A., New Report Says.” NBC News, 9 Mar. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/anti-asian-hate-crimes-increased-nearly-150-2020-mostly-n-n1260264.
Yam, Kimmy. “There Were 3,800 Anti-Asian Racist Incidents, Mostly against Women, in Past Year.” NBC News, 16 Mar. 2021, www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/there-were-3-800-anti-asian-racist-incidents-mostly-against-n1261257.