With great sadness and anger, I am reading in the news about a surge in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) around the U.S.
From the man that opened fire in Georgia on March 16, killing eight people, including six women of Asian descent, to the thug that punched an elderly woman on the streets of San Francisco the following day, to the dead rat that was placed on the doorstep of an Asian-owned ice cream shop in Sacramento, it paints a very troubling picture.
I believe much of this stems from some of our elected officials, starting with President Trump, who continue to flaunt the terms “Kung Flu” and “the China virus,” erroneously slapping a label and blame on Asians for starting the pandemic, which has never been factually determined.
For starters, it is disrespectful to disregard the contributions the AAPI community makes, and how it has drastically shaped and improved communities across the country. From health care providers, senior care workers, police—our police chief—firefighters, military, technology, restaurants, teachers and on and on—this is the fabric of America.
The family of Xiao Zhen Xie, the elderly victim in San Francisco, released this statement: “Hate crimes towards Asians is nothing new. It has happened since the first Asian immigrants arrived in America. But during the pandemic, hate crimes towards the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islanders) community have accelerated in an alarming rate.”
How do these narrow-minded, xenophobic problems come about? I’m no sociologist, but it has been proven time and again that much of this hateful behavior is fomented at home, in how some of us are brought up. I firmly recall my parents taking a strong stand against us four kids bringing home racist terms from school or friends. It didn’t go far in our home. Once my dad heard me use the term “colored people” and he checked me by saying “no one is colored, that’s who they are, just like you.”
On the web site, stopaapihate.org, their opening message is “Our communities stand united against racism. Hate against Asian American Pacific Islander communities has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together we can stop it.”
There’s a lot of weight in that word, together. That’s how we, as a community–I hope–can help ward off these evil trends. Of the Atlanta shootings, the New York Times called it “an unspeakable tragedy for the victims’ families and an Asian-American community that has been reeling from high levels of racists attacks.”
Max Leung, the founder of the San Francisco-based SF Peace Collective, said, “…regardless what he (the Atlanta shooter) says his motives were, Asia-Americans are being attacked and killed for many reasons right now. It’s an epidemic. And it’s on the rise.”
On Saturday there is a National Day of Action planned in at least 13 cities across the U.S., including Atlanta, L.A., New York City, Seattle, Chicago and Washington D.C.
I encourage folks to join in, rise up and get involved. Together we can put an end to this behavior.
Contact Pajaronian reporter and photographer Tarmo Hannula at [email protected]