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Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans


Reported cases of violence against Asian Americans is on the rise.

Last year, Stop APPI Hate Reporting Center documented 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate. Of those accounts, 7.3% of the victims were 60 or older. These reports include verbal assaults, avoidance, being barred from establishments, and physical assaults (coughing, spitting, shoving, etc.).

Elders in the Asian American community are being assaulted at unprecedented rates. This January, a 52-year-old woman was shot in the head with a flare gun in Oakland’s Chinatown, an 84-year-old Thai man was killed after being pushed in San Francisco, a woman was dragged by a car, and three separate Asian American seniors were assaulted on the same day in Oakland. This February, a 61-year-old Filipino man was slashed in the face in New York City, a 79-year-old Asian man was attacked in San Francisco, and a 64-year-old woman was robbed in San Jose after taking out money for Lunar New Year presents. And February is not over yet.

It is essential to recognize that the bulk of the assaults mentioned above in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York are often lauded as diverse, safe-havens. The falsehood of post-racial communities in America only causes complacency and in-fighting amongst marginalized communities. This is especially dangerous when an ethnic group becomes singled out as an enemy to the public by politicians.

After a year of xenophobic rhetoric from the previous presidential administration, the Asian American community is looking for answers to stop the violence. The truth is this dangerous, xenophobic behavior is nothing new.

Historically, the United States government has a long history of discriminatory legislation targeted at the Asian American community. Xenophobia led to the Chinese Exclusionary Act of 1882 and was expanded by a Bay Area Congressman with the Geary Act. Asians were not allowed to immigrate to America until 1924 after acquiring Guam and the Philippines as a colony. White communities would riot and burn down Asian communities, like during the 1930 Watsonville Riots. Then, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established internment camps for Japanese Americans in 1942 in reaction to Pearl Harbor. These Japanese American citizens were arrested, detained, and their possessions seized because of their ethnicity. After 9-11 South Asians, particularly the Sikh community, were victims of violent hate crimes for being perceived as Arab or Muslim. Most recently, the previous administration referring to COVID-19 as the “Kung-flu,” “China plague,” “Chinese virus,” and “Wuhan virus” was just another bullet point on the long list of xenophobic behavior the United States government exhibited towards its Asian American citizens.

How can we defeat xenophobia?

The Asian American community must engage in conversations about xenophobia and racism. Hateful, dangerous, and violent behavior must be called out.

Denouncing and condemning xenophobic, racist, and discriminatory language is the bare minimum. Unfortunately, the last administration forced politicians to publicly denounce bullying, hate speech, and spreading misinformation. It needs to be made clear that ethnic origin has nothing to do with a virus.

New legislation has been passed to start the conversation. New York Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced House Resolution 908, which was passed on September 17, 2020. This legislation condemned misinformation and all xenophobic/racist language, especially rhetoric describing COVID-19. Additionally, Resolution 908 emphasized collecting data on COVID-19 related hate crimes.

Then, President Joe Biden signed the Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This executive order states that the federal government condemns all racism, xenophobia, and intolerance. From this moment forward, the federal government will stop using xenophobic language to describe COVID-19. Various departments and agencies are encouraged to consult AAPI and other community organizations to explore solutions.

Both pieces of legislation are the first step. Two different branches of the government acknowledged the xenophobia and racism Asian Americans currently face. Providing the public with accurate information about COVID-19 and condemning discrimination is vital to changing the rhetoric around COVID-19 from xenophobia to precise scientific language. Reaching out to community organizations to hear different perspectives is critical to understanding real issues marginalized groups face is just the beginning.

We need solutions now to protect the most vulnerable in our communities.

To eradicate the racism the Asian American community currently faces, we must examine our current social system and deconstruct it. We cannot be complicit or silent about anti-Blackness, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, or any other hate speech that leads to violence. We cannot depend on the tools of a broken system to solve the problems it created.

In August, The New York Police Department announced the Asian Hate Crime Task Force comprised of Asian American officers. The idea is to make civilians comfortable speaking to officers to encourage reporting harassment and assault. This task force is permanent as of right now.


Creator: Monyee Chau / Photo Credits  nbcnews.com

Creator: Monyee Chau / Photo Credits nbcnews.com

As a response to the spike in activity, the Oakland police department has increased foot and car patrols in Chinatown to prevent other robberies and assaults.

It is essential to acknowledge that the racism, prejudice, and xenophobia of the Asian American community is different from the racism the Black community experiences.

The increase in police foot traffic and surveillance puts the Black Community at risk. Organizations like the Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAV), Asians4BlackLives, and the Oakland Chinatown Coalition implore that the Asian community seeks alternative actions. Delivering meals and running errands for elders have been proposed as well as volunteer civilian foot patrols and cleanups to protect the community.

It is also essential to emphasize Black and Asian American Activism in the past. Asian American activist, Richard Aoki, was a member of the Black Panther Party and famously held the sign “Yellow Peril Supports Black Power” during a rally supporting Huey Newton. Yuri Kochiyama and Angela Davis spoke about the power of community organizing in the documentary When Mountains Take Wing. These legendary activists emphasize solidarity across racial-ethnic boundaries for social change.

Support local community organizations doing the work to fundraise and protect their communities with donations, sharing information, and volunteering. Here’s a list of the organizations mentioned in this article as well as few others:

  1. Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence

  2. Asian Pacific Policy Planning council (CCA Coalition)

  3. Stop AAPI Hate

  4. Chinese for Affirmative Action

  5. Asians4BlackLives

  6. Oakland Chinatown Coalition

  7. Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council

  8. APENEJ

  9. Asian Prisoner Supper Committee

  10. Filipino Cultural Center

  11. APIENC: API Equality NorCal

  12. Womankind

  13. CCED LA

  14. SEACA LA

  15. Asian Law Caucus


Works Cited

Biden, Joe R. “Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.” The White House. The United States Government, January 26, 2021. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/presidential-actions/2021/01/26/memorandum-condemning-and-combating-racism-xenophobia-and-intolerance-against-asian-americans-and-pacific-islanders-in-the-united-states/.

Che, Chang. “Perspective | The Forgotten Alliance between Black Activists and China.” The Washington Post. WP Company, September 29, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2020/09/28/forgotten-alliance-between-black-activists-china/.

Chin, Jada. “Covid Fueled Anti-Asian Racism. Now Elderly Asian Americans Are Being Attacked.” The Washington Post. WP Company, February 10, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2021/02/09/attacks-asian-american-elderly-/.

Meng, Grace. “H.Res.908 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): Condemning All Forms of Anti-Asian Sentiment as Related to COVID-19.” Congress.gov, September 17, 2020. https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/house-resolution/908.

Romine, Taylor. “NYPD Creates Asian Hate Crime Task Force after Spike in Anti-Asian Attacks during Covid-19 Pandemic.” CNN. Cable News Network, August 19, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/18/us/nypd-asian-hate-crime-task-force/index.html.

“Stop AAPI Hate: New Data on Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Against Elderly and Total National Incidents in 2020.” Stop APPI Hate. Stop APPI Hate, February 9, 2021. https://secureservercdn.net/104.238.69.231/a1w.90d.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Press-Statement-re_-Bay-Area-Elderly-Incidents-2.9.2021-1.pdf.

Westervelt, Eric. “Anger And Fear As Asian American Seniors Targeted In Bay Area Attacks.” NPR. NPR, February 12, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/02/12/966940217/anger-and-fear-as-asian-american-seniors-targeted-in-bay-area-attacks.

Associate Editor

Overachiever Magazine was started by Rehana Paul in October of 2018 to give a platform to all Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities.

Our name is poking fun at the stereotype that all Asians are overachievers, especially Asian women, non-binary people, and other gender minorities. It’s also in recognition of all of us who have had no choice but to be overachievers: managing societal expectations, family obligations, and educational opportunities, all while fighting the patriarchy.

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