by Katherine Kim
We are proud Asian Americans.
Anti Asian hate crime is not new. It has 150 years of discrimination history, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 (repealed in 1943), and Japanese internment during WWII.
Hate crime against Asian Americans has gotten worse since the COVID-19 pandemic. President Trump didn’t help by calling it terms such as “China Virus,” “Kung Fu virus,” etc. The California State University reported that hate crimes against Asians has increased by 150% in 2020, and Stop AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) Hate has received reports of 3,795 hate crime incidents since the beginning of the pandemic. 58% of Asian Americans believed that racist views have increased during the pandemic.
In the recent gun violence in Atlanta against three spas where eight people were killed, six of them were Asian women. This is a wakeup call which we can’t pass. It is a hate crime.
We hear of a Korean restaurant owner who was punched for no reason, and elderly Asian men and women being pushed on the street. Asians usually don’t report incidents like this, and especially don’t report them to the authority. They don’t speak up even though they were treated unfairly, preferring to let it go. Asian Americans are afraid of going outside, and children are bullied at school.
Until recently, our government seemed to think there was no racism problem. On April 22, the United States Senate passed a bill to address anti-Asian hate crime. This bill was approved by the Legislature May 18, and is pending signature by the President as this article is being written.
Racism is our issue, but we don’t recognize it and we are often in denial. Racism is thought of as a binary issue between the black and the white, so it doesn’t matter to us. But racism of Asians makes them targets of scapegoating. It started in the late 1800’s, when the stereotype of “yellow peril” promoted a vague fear of the people of East Asia by the Western world, to justify Western imperialist expansion.
Asian Americans look “different,” so we are treated as perpetual foreigners even if we are born in the USA. Calling Asian Americans a “Model Minority” is not a compliment, it is a means to divide us against black and other minorities. It is a way to divide people and promote a silencing rivalry.
Asian Americans work hard, supporting our families and tending our business. Education is our top priority. Trying to get away from poverty, there is a strong push for college graduation. We don’t want help, as it’s considered shameful. Especially during the COVID pandemic, many family members have needed to work hard to support their families. But with many parents unable to help with school work, the high school dropout rate has risen among Asian American students.
Speaking as a Korean-American woman, racism is an issue that we are still facing. We need to learn how to dismantle it, and we need to prepare for the event. Being silent encourages violence. We need to stand up and speak up. Ministers need to talk about racism at the pulpit. We need to have a voice, and are asked by the people and the world to transform the church and the world.
Following John Wesley’s practice of Social Holiness, we need to learn to speak up and declare our faith. Racism is our issue, we do not wish to have another incidence like the gun violence in Atlanta. We need to stand up and speak up.
Actions you can take against AAPI hate
- Report hate crimes and incidents at stopaapihate.org
- This site is a national reporting center for hate crimes and incidents of harassment and bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
- Reports can be made in 17 languages and include resources for those who have experienced hate and harassment.
- Attend a free bystander training course at ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/
- Most of us have witnessed or experienced some type of discrimination or aggression in our lives. Bystander training gives you the tools to de-escalate or safely intervene on behalf of each other.