For many Asians and Asian Americans, COVID-19 has fuelled feelings of “otherness” and being “permanent foreigners.” Over the last year there has been a rise in xenophobia, racism, and hate crimes towards the Asian population, leaving individuals feeling unsafe and isolated. A disturbing wave of anti-Asian violence has swept early 2021 in particular, with reports of acid attacks, assaults on Asian seniors in streets of major cities, and tragic homicides. Much of this violence has been driven by misplaced hate, anger, and frustration exacerbated by the pandemic and surrounding political dialogue. According to Stop AAPI Hate, a national organization tracking accounts of anti-Asian hate, the organization has received 3700+ incidents from February 2020 to March 2021. Reported hate crimes have risen nearly 150% from 2019 to 2020.
History of hostility has accompanied Asians since the first wave of migrations in the 1800s, from various restraints on immigration (Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882) to Japanese American internment camps in World War II. More recently, in the aftermath of 9/11, South Asians have been affected by the waves of Islamophobia sweeping the US, and parallel to today, during the 2003 SARS outbreak, anti-Asian hate crimes soared. Recent anti-Asian hate crimes have come to light due to overall increased awareness of race-related crimes and the recording and sharing media, but unrecorded microaggressions and cultural simplifications have long been present in our society. COVID-19, economic difficulties, and charged political tension have sparked unprecedented accounts of visible hate crimes.
Although seemingly disparate, anti-Asian hate crimes and other efforts to combat racism are both rooted in the same white supremacy and structural discrimination against people of color. As more and more accounts of racial discrimination and injustice arise, addressing anti-Asian hate crimes and the population’s concerns become increasingly important as we work towards collective solutions for tackling racism.
Stop AAPI Hate has received 3700+ incidents from February 2020 to March 2021.
From specific legislative measures starting in 1882 to 9/11, Asians and Asian Americans have been treated as “permanent foreigners” in many communities.
Anti-Asian hate crimes trace roots from white supremacy and structural discrimination.