During this past year, hate crimes towards Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have increased dramatically, especially in heavily populated areas like California and New York.
“Name-calling, shunning and assault were among the nearly 3,800 hate incidents reported against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide over the last year,” according to the New York Times. These crimes have been both verbal and physical. Verbal attacks make up about 90% of the misconduct and attacks of physical nature make up the remaining 9%, according to VOA News.
Glory Ho ‘24 shares her personal experience during this devastating period. “It’s terrifying hearing new stories about different attacks against our elders almost daily. I am grateful that I, along with the rest of my family, have not been victims of hate crimes, but the fact that we all have to worry over our lives is completely wrong,” said Ho.
These attacks have been made towards Asian-Americans of all ages. “In the Jan. 28 security footage, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was shoved to the ground while taking his morning walk in San Francisco; just two days after the assault, he died,” stated Cady Lang of Time Magazine.
The recent shooting in which eight people including six Asian women were killed in Atlanta, Georgia, highlights the recent uptick in race-based violence towards people of Asian descent.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, these crimes have been occurring more frequently. It has been reported that the increase of these racist encounters is due to Donald Trump’s phrase referring to COVID-19 with racist terms such as the “the China virus.” “There’s a clear correlation between President Trump’s incendiary comments, his insistence on using the term ‘Chinese virus’ and the subsequent hate speech spread on social media and the hate violence directed towards us,” Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said to Time Magazine.
Stop AAPI Hate was created in March of 2020 to obviate racism and discrimination towards the Asian community during the COVID-19 pandemic. They accumulate information on assault and harassment towards Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and release reports periodically.
Recently, President Biden has made an official statement regarding Asian hate crimes, stating, “They are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong, it’s un-American and it must stop.” Many victims of these hateful crimes have spoken out and shared their hope that Biden’s message of condemning this racist behavior will get through to people. Yuhan Zhang, a tea shop owner in Washington, D.C., who was verbally and physically assaulted with pepper spray in November told CBS News, “At least now we have our first step. Then, with more efforts we can maybe make a real difference.“
Glory Ho ‘24 shares more of her thoughts and opinions on the increase of Asian hate crimes. “Although Asian hate crimes have definitely risen in numbers within the past year, they are not new. The history of hate and negative stereotypes against Asians and our culture needs to be talked about, or else no change will ever be made. We shouldn’t have to fear for our lives when we step out to go to the grocery market. I think listening to people part of the Asian community and what they’ve witnessed is key,” Ho said. Ho makes it abundantly clear that hate crimes and xenophobic behavior are not a new development towards Asian-Americans. She urges those not of Asian descent to know the importance of listening to and acknowledging the Asian community’s own experiences with anti-Asian racism and xenophobia.