SHAE KUROKAWA WRITES — Nearly a year since the United States began experiencing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, violent attacks against Asian-Americans have alarmingly increased.
At the start of this new year, San Francisco’s Bay Area reported a handful of xenophobic assaults against Asian-Americans, many of whom were elderly. Forms of harassment included forceful pushing and hitting, bodily slashings, robberies and verbal attacks—some of which resulted in death or serious injuries. New York City has also seen a number of such assaults against the Asian community. Unfortunately, these cities are just two of the many urban, ethnically diverse areas experiencing upticks in racial violence as well as sparking fear and anxiety on the part of Asian Americans.
According to a press release by Stop the AAPI Hate, a national coalition created in response to this accelerating anti-Asian violence and rhetoric, over 2,808 first-hand incidents of discrimination and hate were reported between March 19 – December 31, 2020. A NYPD report claims that within one year there has been a 1,900% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes, in New York City alone; just one reported incident in 2019 (a statistic published in multiple news outlets, including the New York Times), compared to 20 before July of 2020.
Keep in mind that these statistics cover only the cases reported. One can well assume that many more occurred.
Some community leaders believe former President Trump helped spur today’s anti-Asian violence, with his use of xenophobic language regarding COVID-19, such as calling it “the China virus” or the “Kung Flu.” This rhetoric was picked up by some conservative media platforms and public officials, therefore helping to spread and normalize such hateful language.
The good news is this: To combat this frightening increase in anti-Asian sentiment, President Biden signed a memorandum last month “condemning and combating racism, xenophobia, and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.” So, there is hope; but words on paper can only do so much. Now at a new low in our long history of prejudice against Asians, the nation must formulate and implement a long-range, strategic anti-racist rhetoric plan.