“You’re lucky to be Asian. That’s why you’re so smart.
“Where are you really from? »
“You look really pretty for an Asian.”
As an Asian American, I have heard these microaggressions all my life. Last year, however, anti-Asian sentiments in the United States grew.
Because the COVID-19 pandemic dates back to China, people have associated the disease with Asians in general. Many Americans, including former President Donald Trump, have publicly referred to the disease with derogatory names, such as “Chinese virus” and “Kung flu”.
These narratives are ignorant, and this type of rhetoric is detrimental to the public perception of Asians, harming individuals from these groups both physically and emotionally.
On March 16, eight people were killed in shootings at Atlanta-area massage parlors. Six of these victims were women of Asian descent. It just goes to show that these problems are not isolated to the cities of New York and California; they are extremely close to home and are a problem in every corner of the country.
These acts of anti-Asian violence take a heavy toll on Asian American families and communities who are already suffering due to the sharp rise in hate crimes and anti-Asian sentiment over the past year.
At the height of the pandemic, violence and hostility toward people of Asian descent increased dramatically in the United States. According to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States increased nearly 150% in 2020.
Last March, a man stabbed and attempted to kill three Asian American family members, including two young children, while shopping at Sam’s Club in Midland, Texas. The man later admitted he did it because he thought they were infecting people with the coronavirus.
In July 2020, an elderly Asian woman was set on fire by two Brooklyn teenagers, and throughout the pandemic, Asian American medical professionals have been verbally abused, spat on, and shunned by patients.
This violence continued into the new year. At the end of January, an 84-year-old Thai man was violently pushed to the ground and killed during his morning walk in San Francisco.
These traumatic events highlight the racism emboldened by the damaging words of Trump and other influential people in the United States. The Trump administration scapegoated Asian Americans, and for some Americans it was easy to blame Asian citizens for the fear and desperation that reverberated across the country. This is a recurring problem in our country.
Throughout our history, people of Asian descent have been commonly referred to as the “model minority” group, and while that may sound like a compliment, it can trivialize racism in the community.
The stereotypes that accompany the model minority myth present Asians as a monolith – the assumption that Asians are inherently intelligent and successful because of their race. Because of this assumption, their experiences with prejudice and oppression often go unnoticed.
This mindset is also prevalent even within the Asian American community, as individuals from these groups attempt to assimilate and therefore internalize these beliefs. Many Asian Americans are in denial about the discrimination they face and their struggles are ignored.
A survey by the National Institute of Justice suggests that Asians are most likely to under-report offences, such as hate crimes, to law enforcement officials.
When you’re constantly told that other minority groups should look up to you because you’re somehow “better” than them, it can be hard to come to terms with the fact that you too face racism and prejudice on a daily basis. . This presentation of minority groups as competitors also makes it more difficult for them to collaborate in the fight against oppression.
The United States claims to be a melting pot, a diverse mix of people who appreciate each other’s differences, but that doesn’t describe the reality of our situation.
Time and again, minority groups face discrimination, belittlement and antagonism. People in positions of power promote harmful stereotypes and racist narratives.
These people are rarely held accountable for their actions and, in many cases, are more fervently supported after expressing their primitive beliefs. In these situations, racism and ignorance are able to come out of the shadows and rear their ugly head for all to see.
We can never progress if the solution to all our problems is to find someone to blame. The path to a more perfect union leaves no room for racism, hatred or xenophobia.
Our leaders need to stop being part of the problem and, alternatively, start calling out racism and hypocrisy anyway.
The fear and uncertainty from which racism stems is a dangerous combination, and we have been placed in far too many situations that have made us fearful and uncertain over the past year.
Still, that’s no excuse for hate. In difficult times, we must come together instead of tearing us apart because in the end, we are only hurting each other.