Don’t Let Hate Crimes Against Asian Americans be Just a Blip on the Radar

Asian Americans deserve to be seen. Here’s how we can make that happen

Two weeks ago eight people were shot to death, including six women, in Asian-owned businesses in Atlanta. That horrible event is only one of many crimes committed against Asians and Asian Americans  in what has been a racist violence resurgence since the former U.S. president started calling COVID-19 the “China flu.” Elderly Asians have died after brutal attacks in San Francisco and Oakland and there have been a slew of attacks in New York, including a 65-year-old woman who was attacked while people looked on and did nothing to help

This problem isn’t new and yet it’s been largely overlooked by the media. Even rising numbers of attacks over the past year seemed to go unnoticed or ignored completely until the most recent tragedies. However, the statistics show this problem is widespread. A recent report from the national coalition Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate documented nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents from the beginning of the pandemic through the end of February. Meanwhile, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino released research showing that hate crimes, from racial slurs and stabbings to vandalism and attacks, rose 150% from 2019 to 2020.

Hate crimes, from racial slurs and stabbings to vandalism and attacks, rose 150% from 2019 to 2020.

Anti-Asian crimes and racism deserve our ongoing attention. When a group is targeted, threatened, attacked and killed because of their race, that is a hate crime; when it happens with increasing frequency and volume, that merits media coverage and public conversation not as a tragedy, but a serious problem for society. 

So, what can allies do to address violence, oppression and discrimination at a systemic level — so it’s not just relegated to the news headlines for a week or two before everyone moves on to the next outrage? 

Follow and lift up Asian voices

Addressing internal biases and blind spots starts with listening and reflecting. One way to broaden your lens is to follow Asian activists, journalists and organizers; many are hosting virtual events and Instagram Live interviews, sharing resources and amplifying stories that aren’t being told elsewhere. This resource list curated by Sarah Belle Lin includes folks to follow. Individuals, organizations and corporations who have a platform should use that platform to lift up Asian voices. 

Call for tech companies — and all companies — to step up

Like they have for LGBTQ+ rights and Black Lives Matter, companies need to take a stand against anti-Asian racism. They should publicly take a stance, donate to groups that help the Asian community and support employees who need time to deal with the tragedies, to protest and to work toward anti-racism. More than 1,000 Asian American business leaders from the big tech companies and others are collectively committing to donate $10 million over the next year to community groups that support the Asian community. Now we need to see this type of support from the companies themselves. Corporate advocacy is particularly necessary in Silicon Valley, which has a history of employing Asians but not at the most senior levels of leadership. Stopping Asian hate is a human rights cause that is equally as important as others. 

Corporate advocacy is particularly necessary in Silicon Valley, which has a history of employing Asians but not at the most senior levels of leadership. Stopping Asian hate is a human rights cause that is equally as important as others.

Get educated about the history of anti-Asian racism and violence

While the recent violence is grabbing the headlines, it’s just the latest anti-Asian xenophobia in a long history of prejudice and violence. The Washington Post details the history of anti-Asian racism, which included laws banning Asian immigrants and Japanese internment camps during World War II. And The San Francisco Chronicle details our country’s history of scapegoating Asians for infectious disease outbreaks, including smallpox outbreaks in 1875 and the bubonic plague in 1900.

Take meaningful action

There are a number of resources for people who want more information on how they can help. This Anti-Asian Violence Resources web page has statistics, updates on protests, educational and allyship resources and links for donating and reporting incidents, among other things. And this Google doc has a comprehensive list of resources for supporting the AAPI community. 

For those who want to know how to help when they witness a racist act, the Hollaback! organization does bystander intervention training. Mission North is matching employee donations for: Stop AAPI Hate, which provides support to victims and advocates for social and political protections for the community; the NAPAWF (National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum), which focuses on affecting political and social change for AAPI women; Send Chinatown Love, which has set up a page with individual fundraisers for New York-based, Asian-owned businesses; and GoFundMe’s Support the AAPI Community Fund, which is raising millions of dollars for more than a dozen worthy organizations. 

For those who want to know how to help when they witness a racist act, the Hollaback! organization does bystander intervention training.

This Common Dreams op-ed provides some other recommendations including solidarity protests to raise awareness about the violence to the broader population, education to inform and break down the ignorance that lies at the root of the problem, community building, and ending racist immigration policies that legitimize the demonization of immigrants. 

The change that’s needed won’t happen overnight, which is all the more reason to commit to the work of anti-racism now. We as allies and a society need to make sure it doesn’t wind up as merely last month’s news. Let’s give this problem the full attention it deserves.