The Anti-Asian Racism and Violence That Got Us Here, and How to Help Fight Back
Stop Asian Hate.
For months, Asian American and Pacific Islander communities have been sounding the alarm about the horrifying rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and attacks in the U.S. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, which former President Donald Trump insisted on calling “the China virus” despite the danger of doing so, hate and violence against the AAPI community has risen exponentially, and now, following what was by all indications a racist rampage aimed towards Asian women in Atlanta, eight people are dead with more injured.
This tragedy is horrifying and frightening, even more so because it is an escalation of a terrifying trend in racist violence, one that was stoked and encouraged by people like the former president who use hate to enflame their political bases with no regard for the human cost. The rise in anti-Asian racism goes back to the start of the pandemic. Before the country even went into lockdown, Senator Diane Feinstein was publicly denouncing the rise in Asian hate. But the media even then continued to associate the coronavirus with images of Asian people. That stopped for the most part as COVID overtook the nation, but for right-wing extremist assholes like Trump and his friends, who didn’t want to admit their own failure to control the virus, Asian people became the scapegoat. And look where we are.
Hours before the attacks in Atlanta, the organization Stop AAPI Hate reported that they had recorded/received reports of 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian racism and hate.
Stop AAPI Hate is proud to announce our latest national report, measuring anti-Asian hate incidents from March 2020-Feb 2021. In the last 12 months, we have tracked 3,795 hate incident reports from APIs in all 50 states and DC. pic.twitter.com/fbKUUdByvj
— Stop AAPI Hate (@StopAAPIHate) March 16, 2021
This report came on the heels of a string of attacks on Asian Americans, beginning on January 28th when Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old man from Thailand, was violently pushed while on his morning walk. Ratanapakdee died from his injuries two days later. Following that, more and more incidents continued, with many Asian elders being attacked in public, with clear racist motivations. According to a study by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 cities rose 150% last year. The majority of these attacks have been against women.
At the same time that Asian Americans have been calling for attention to this issue online and in media, the hate has continued. And now, with this horrific tragedy, more are dead, and Asian Americans are left with the feeling that this attack was the inevitable outcome of the rise in violence and the long history of dehumanization and racism towards Asian people in America, even as they spoke out to try to stop it.
The worst part of what I’m feeling right now is that this was inevitable.
— Angry Asian Man (@angryasianman) March 17, 2021
In less than 48 hours, we had a historic Asian Oscar moment with multiple firsts in 93 years—then a mass shooting targeting 3 Asian-owned businesses. This is how terrorism works—you’re not allowed to feel safe, accepted, or valued. We can resist. Take up space. Make noise.
— Min Jin Lee (@minjinlee11) March 17, 2021
We need to root out what is carrying forward the creation of incels, white supremacists, misogynists, and racists so fucking stupid they’ll murder an Asian person because they think they’re to blame for COVID-19.
We need to root it out, and destroy it entirely.#StopAAPIHate
— Jimmy Wong (@jfwong) March 17, 2021
but it’s also not helping. Let me use my imperfect words now and tell you how I feel (shitty, angry, lucky, despairing) and ask you to speak up against AAPI hate too. We need more voices, we need more awareness, otherwise we brush it aside until this happens again.
— Yulin Kuang (@YulinKuang) March 17, 2021
As we wait for more details to emerge, I ask everyone to remember that hurtful words and rhetoric have real life consequences. Please stand up, condemn this violence, and help us #StopAsianHate (2/2)
— Judy Chu (@RepJudyChu) March 17, 2021
No words. But you should know. https://t.co/StaEpnDIbo
— Adele Lim (@adeleBlim) March 17, 2021
What is worse is that for many (truly terrible) people, the murder of Asian women continued to be a joke and an excuse for more dehumanization. This cannot and should not happen, but it does because this is the world racists have built. Victims are ignored and mocked even as the perpetrator of these crimes was taken into custody alive, and will most certainly be the focus of the media narrative in the wake of this terror.
I can’t describe what it feels like to see these assholes respond to the murder of Asian women with the same disgusting jokes I’ve heard my whole life. Even dead, we’re just a punchline. https://t.co/vLFhyp3vkh
— Tiffany Liao (@Tiff_Liao) March 17, 2021
I know these women. The ones working themselves to the bone to send their kids to school, to send money back home. In too much pain to know what else to say so I’ll just leave this here. https://t.co/Dz7wKkbADy
— Lulu Wang (@thumbelulu) March 17, 2021
Stop the casually racist jokes, interlaced with sexism and sexual violence, that are made at the expense of Asian women who work in places like massage parlors and nail salons. These jokes are not harmless. Dehumanization leads to violence.
— Helen Shangdavision (@helenshang) March 17, 2021
hey media let’s just fucking not spend time humanizing this shooter for once
— TZE THEE CHUN (@thetzechun) March 17, 2021
Asian women are your punchlines
Sex workers are your punchlines
Kung flu is your punchline
You fucking did this
— Jenny Yang (@jennyyangtv) March 17, 2021
In light of the Atlanta murders of Asian Americans, I urge you to talk about the victims, community, and crimes rather than feeding any bullshit humanizing the perpetrators. That oxygen only gives permission to others who are on the fringe.
— Mike Chen – WE COULD BE HEROES is out now! (@mikechenwriter) March 17, 2021
But there are things we all can do to help. The first is to listen to and support the AAPI community in this time, and take steps to learn how to speak up and intervene against this sort of violence. Hollaback! has partnered with Asian Americans Advancing Justice to offer free bystander intervention training as well as offering a de-escalation training online. There are also many organizations to which you can donate. New York Magazine has listed fifty of them here, but let us highlight a few.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta
We are shaken by the violence in our city that has left 8 ppl dead, including members of the Asian American community. We are gathering info about what happened & the needs of directly impacted are. Now is the time to hold the victims & their families in our hearts & with light pic.twitter.com/Hft5H7IZNW
— AdvancingJusticeATL (@AAAJ_Atlanta) March 17, 2021
Red Canary Song:
— (@rabbitwhite) March 17, 2021
The Atlanta chapter of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum.
hi! i work for @napawf_atl aka the ATL chapter of @NAPAWF (the national asian pacific american women’s forum) where we DIRECTLY ADVOCATE and SUPPORT immigrant asian women worker and reproductive rights in GA. please consider donating to our chapter: https://t.co/LAGd5YhQNv
— Teresa Tran (@teresatran__) March 17, 2021
The dismantling of white supremacy and racism is no easy task, but it is something that can be accomplished. It requires us all to work to stand up against hate, unlearn racism, and work in solidarity and support of these communities.
(image: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)
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