Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rise of Asian American and Pacific Islander hate has been on the rise. When the pandemic saw the first cases from Wuhan, China, former President Donald Trump dropped the “corona” suffix from the proper name “coronavirus,” to the racist “Chinese virus.” With Trump’s racist and xenophobic strategies, the United States has seen a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes.
Over the past few weeks, there has been a rise of attacks on women and elderly people of Asian descent in U.S. major cities. Not only have these discriminatory attacks been on the rise recently, but more than 3,700 attacks have been reported since March 2020. The new activism website, Stop AAPI Hate, is a hub that provides resources for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders and tracks violence and harassment in those communities.
The most recent attack on the Asian community was in Atlanta, where eight people were shot in various spa and massage parlors March 16. Six of the victims were Asian women, even though the assailant, Robert Aron Long, stated that the motive for the shooting was not racially motivated. He visited the spas for massages on occasion to try to combat his sex addiction.
Long stated he shot his victims because he was having “a really bad day.” No one should kill eight people after having an off day. That is intolerable.
After the Atlanta shooting, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris both issued statements regarding harassment toward Asian Americans. Harris, who is of South Asian descent, expressed that the Trump presidency promoted racist comments.
“For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans,” Harris said. “People with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate.”
John C. Yang, president and executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, urged Biden to issue anti-discriminatory policies to address the constant hate crimes in major U.S. cities.
“One thing that we know he does well is serve as a healer and a person that understands grief,” Yang said. “A person should understand that we must first center ourselves on the victims and their families and make sure that they are taken care of. That’s certainly what our community is hoping for. And then, from there we talk about solutions.”
One thing is clear—standing up to hate is the best way to become an ally for the AAPI community. The Biden administration must pass anti-discriminatory legislation to stop racist attacks on Asian Americans. As a nation, we must stand with the community and denounce all hateful acts of violence to ensure its safety.
Without standing for others, who will stand for you?