“For many of us in our community, this is the first time we are even able to voice our fear and our anger, and I really am so grateful for everyone willing to listen. We must understand, as Asian Americans, we just need to reach out our hand to our sisters and brothers and say, ‘Help me and I’m here’. I am proud to be Asian. I belong here.”
We Need to Pay Attention to the #StopAsianHate Movement in the US
In the aftermath of the horrific shooting spree in Atlanta, Georgia, where a white man shot dead 8 people at three different spas – with 6 of those killed being Asian women – the country has ignited over the consistent and too often ignored crisis of Asian hate in the US.
While the police at first claimed the shooter was “having a bad day” and killed those people because of “sexual frustration”, many were quick to call this out as blatant and dangerous nonsense – to ignore the fact that the shooter targetted Asian women and instead claim that it was sexually motivated is just another form of ignorant disrespect and racism that Asian Americans are all too familiar with.
The rise of Asian hate-crime in the US has skyrocketed since the beginning of the pandemic – fueled by former President Trump’s racist remarks that COVID was a Chinese virus. There have been at least 3,700 reports of anti-Asian hate crimes across the US since last year alone – and the New York City Police Department has also reported an almost 2,000% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. Both activists and Asian Americans, however, know that the real numbers are much higher than this.
In the wake of the shooting, Asian Americans – and allies – are finally rallying together around the #StopAsianHate hashtags, and are staging protests across the US. Asian Americans, coming from a wide variety of backgrounds including East Asian, Southeast Asian, and Pacific Islander backgrounds, have been at the silent end of the spectrum of racism for almost as long as the history of the United States itself – from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 to the Japanese Internment Camps during WWII to the consistent emasculation of Asian men and sexualization of Asian women, the US is deeply at fault when it comes to the racism experienced by Asian Americans.
Finally, it seems that the country is slowly waking up to the realization that the myth of Asian Americans being the “model minority” is not only untrue but also extremely harmful – and that racism towards Asians, in general, is deeply embedded in the general psyche. Hollywood has also always portrayed Asian men as being emasculate, nerdy, or anti-social – and on the flip side, Asian women are more often than not portrayed as sexually mysterious, quirky, or weird enough to create a fetish fan-base.
There has always been underlying racism (laced with sexism) towards Asian Americans – and the casual way in which it’s “funny” if you look Asian, when it’s “funny” to mock languages such as Chinese, and when it’s “funny” to freak out at East Asian food is not only sickeningly discriminatory but also deadly. It’s deadly when Asian Americans are literally killed just for being Asian, and are mocked and belittled just because of the way someone looks or the way a name is pronounced.
Since the shooting in Atlanta, celebrities and activists have spoken out against Asian hate across the US – actor and producer Daniel Dae Kim was one among many who testified before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties on the rise of hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans.
Daniel Dae Kim stated:
I got very angry because this is now a year of these kinds of things going on. They’re attacking our most-vulnerable population and no one in the mainstream media, outside of the Asian American echo chamber, is picking up this story. … People are saying for the first time, ‘I had no idea this was going on.'”
Daniel Dae Kim on House bill condemning anti-Asian sentiment: "I was disheartened to find that for a bill that required no money or resources, just a simple condemnation of acts of hate …164 members of Congress—all Republican—voted against it." https://t.co/uHCVK3eFRM pic.twitter.com/4GbDU7jqDT
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) March 18, 2021
Actor Sandra Oh was also present at a Stop Asian Hate rally in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Saturday, where she passionately called on the wider community to really recognize the danger in ignoring the racism and hate that Asian Americans experience on a daily basis. Oh, who comes from a Korean Canadian background, stated:
For many of us in our community, this is the first time we are even able to voice our fear and our anger, and I really am so grateful for everyone willing to listen. We must understand, as Asian Americans, we just need to reach out our hand to our sisters and brothers and say, ‘Help me and I’m here’. I am proud to be Asian. I belong here.”
Trevor Noah, the host of The Daily Show, also called out the bigotry that often follows hate against Asian Americans in regards to the Atlanta shooting:
Your murders speak louder than your words. This guy blamed a specific race of people for his problems and then murdered them because of it. If that’s not racism then the word has no meaning.”
Other celebrities and allies have taken to Twitter under the #StopAsianHate hashtag in a show of solidarity:
Absolutely horrible. Sending love to all the loved ones of those whose lives were taken. Our nation needs to reckon with the increased threats being directed at our Asian-American brothers and sisters. https://t.co/52DCKPeDOt
— John Legend (@johnlegend) March 17, 2021
what happened yesterday in Atlanta was brutal, tragic & is certainly not an isolated incident by any means. AAPI hate has been rampantly perpetuated & it’s disgusting! I’m heartbroken for the Asian community & my heart is with the loved ones of those we lost. The hate must stop. pic.twitter.com/rkxZDnxG9E
— Rihanna (@rihanna) March 18, 2021
Say Their Names 🕯:
Delaina Ashley Yaun
Paul Andre Michels
Hyeon Jeong Park
(Identities of the two other victims have not been released as of now)
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) March 18, 2021
The Atlanta shooter has since been charged with multiple counts of murder and one of aggravated assault – but Asian Americans and activists across the US are saying that this sentence should not be the end of this conversation, and that the acknowledgment and remedy for the daily racism that Asian Americans face must truly come to an end for there to be justice.
In an effort to not only show solidarity but combat the onslaught of anti-Asian hate, here are a few places that we can donate and get involved with:
- The Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) has a fundraiser to directly help the victim’s families from the Atlanta shooting, which can be found here.
- The Asian American Resource Center, based in Georgia, is a nonprofit that works to offer assistance to struggling Asian American families. They provide secure housing for homeless families and provide free English classes to Asian immigrants. Learn more about them here.
- The Center for Pan Asian Community Services is another nonprofit that offers a wide range of social services and help to Asian immigrants, refugees, and the underprivileged. You can find their organization here.
- The Asian Pacific Fund is another organization that raises money to help combat anti-Asian racism and hate-crime in the San Francisco Bay Area. Learn more about them here.
- The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, based in New York, is an organization that provides legal resources and education for Asian Americans and Asian community groups, which can be found here.
As Muslims, and as we continue to support the Black Lives Matter movement, we cannot sit by idly when a group of people are targeted and killed for their race, belief, or ethnicity. We must stand by the oppressed, rejected, and innocent as we call out injustices – the Asian American community needs all our support as we combat all forms of racism and hatred.