NYC.GOV/ Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya
There’s been a long-standing pattern of racism towards Asian Americans. It has yet to be addressed on a larger level despite the percentage of hate crimes against Asian people increasing substantially in recent years. Especially during the pandemic.
“As a Chinese-American raised in the South, I often experienced racism as a younger child, and growing up I witnessed it happen to my parents too,” junior Michelle Zou said. “When I was younger, racism against Asians was taken as a joke, but now there’s been such a huge increase of violence towards the Asian community, especially our elders. Our community needs to stand up and use our voices, but we often get shut down by people who tell us that we’re too sensitive.”
When the first cases of COVID-19 were discovered in Wuhan, China, many people jumped to conclusions and claimed that the virus came from Chinese people. These racist stigmas encouraged people to commit even more acts of hate against the Asian community.
According to an analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, anti-Asian hate crimes skyrocketed by 150%.
Last week on March 16, a mass shooting took place in an Atlanta spa that left eight people dead. Six of them were Asian women.
Police have said that the attack was not racially motivated, yet the attacker targeted three Asian-owned spas during his rampage.
The shooter, Robert Aaron Long, has since been arrested and charged with eight counts of murder, but the attack has left Asians across the nation fearful and outraged.
Considering Annandale’s 20% Asian population, many students and teachers were personally affected by the tragedy that took place last Tuesday. The community has even been referred to as “Asiandale” or “Koreatown,” not in a derogatory way.
Senior Jimmy Le, Co-Founder of Annandale’s Equity Team wrote a personal reflection on the murders that took place in Atlanta.
The reflection was originally shared with the Annandale Equity Team, and it was later posted by Le on his Instagram account. Many AHS students took the time to repost and share the personal reflection.
The media has played a large role in down playing the severity of anti-Asian hate crimes that have taken place across the nation. News outlets have been calling the murders that took place on Tuesday “incidents,” but that is not the case. The six women that died last week were victims of a hate crime.
Since the world went into lockdown last year, there have been over 3,000 reports of anti-Asian hate crimes across the United States.
Former President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric regarding COVID-19, and his repeated use of racist phrases such as “China virus” and “Kung flu” inspired his supporters to take discriminating against Asians to another level.
For months, the Asian American and Pacific Islander community suffered in silence as mainstream media continued to ignore the hate crimes that were quickly rising in America.
Recently, these issues are finally coming to light and more information is being spread. This is a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to stop these hate crimes from continuing.
Last Thursday, the House Judiciary Subcommittee held a hearing regarding the recent attack that took place in Atlanta. Many lawmakers and activists took the time to discuss the issues and declare their support for the AAPI community.
State representatives and members of the committee were demanding justice for the lives that were lost.
Fairfax County issued a statement in response to the violent attack that took place in Atlanta. In the e-mail, the increase in harassment and violence against the AAPI community was addressed.
“We know that members of our FCPS community are experiencing increased fear and anxiety; we see you, we are in this together. We will continue to work within this community to address misinformation and xenophobic language that leads to aggression, harassment, and exclusion of our students, families, and colleagues from Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities,” the email stated.
FCPS’s acknowledgement of the issue is important so that our community can progress, as well as the rest of the world. Petitions and resources were also listed in the email.
The tragic incident has garnered attention from across the nation, and it has started many discussions regarding the racist treatment towards AAPI communities.
Although it’s great that more people are talking about this, it’s unfortunate that people had to die in order for attention to be brought to this topic.
Discrimnation against Asians has been around for decades. In 1882, the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed by President Chester A. Arthur and it prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers into the U.S.
In 1920, women were granted the right to vote, but Asian and Native Americans still were not given this right. Asian people could not vote until 1952 under the McCarran-Walter Act.
The AAPI community has come a long way in this country, it’s time that people acknowledge the issues that they have been facing for decades and it’s time that they are put to an end for good.