Enough is Enough: Stop AAPI Hate
Image Source: TIME
Before the start of COVID-19, I, a first-generation Korean-American, had experienced my “fair share” of microaggressive comments–my peers taunting me at recess, shouting “ching chong” at me, or asking if my family ate dogs in grade school. I thought those comments and questions were completely normal. I was foolish enough to laugh along with them. I even tolerated my peers turning their noses up at my homemade Korean lunches.
Now, with the recent surge and alarming escalation in xenophobic and bigoted attacks on the AAPI community as a result of COVID-19, Asian Americans are reflecting: is this a recent turn of events, or has this always been an attitude held by our fellow Americans? Many have pointed out that people tend to turn a blind eye at racial violence against Asian Americans because of stereotypes held about my community. Bianca Mabute-Louie, a racial justice educator, puts it perfectly: “There is a stereotype and an assumption that Asian Americans have class privilege, that they have high socioeconomic status and education, and that any discrimination doesn’t really happen or feel legitimate.” These stereotypes have forced the AAPI community into subconsciously accepting and brushing off microaggressions.
Mabute-Louie cites the model minority myth because it suggests that upward mobility creates a fallacy that Asian Americans don’t experience the same struggles or racial discriminations as other POC. This stereotype has only been emphasized by films like Crazy Rich Asians, hard facts going largely ignored: a 2016 report from NYC Mayor’s Office of Operations found that Asian immigrants have the highest poverty rates throughout New York City.
A year ago I feared, at most, getting a dirty look in public or people intentionally moving away from me on public transportation. I remember being in London at the start of the pandemic and having to carry around a ridiculously large umbrella in case I was assaulted in broad daylight, like John Mok was.
Today, I fear the worst: my grandmother falling victim to the uncontrollable acts of hatred that have surged this past year, largely catalyzed by the words of Donald Trump. “There’s a clear correlation between President Trump’s incendiary comments, his insistence on using the term ‘Chinese virus’ and the subsequent hate speech spread on social media and the hate violence directed towards us,” Russel Jeung, a co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, says. “It gives people license to attack us.”
Racism is also a virus. Treat it with active and continued anti-racism. This means educating yourself, classifying violence against Asian Americans as hate crimes and using your privilege to take action. Continue to donate to anti-hate initiatives, contact your local representatives about the issue, and check in with your AAPI friends and family. This is a bigger issue within our society – we need to band together now more than ever. The AAPI community, my community, desperately needs your help.
Posted by Hannah