By: Catherine Seok
An 84-year-old Thai immigrant died last month in San Francisco after being shoved to the ground. An 89-year-old Chinese woman was slapped and set on fire in Brooklyn. A 61-year-old Filipino-American was cut with a box cutter on the subway. These are only a few examples of the thousands reported. Ever since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a surge of hate crimes and discrimination against those of Asian descent, including instances of verbal harassment, shunning, physical assault, being coughed/spat on, workplace discrimination, and refusal of service. Sadly, this is not surprising.
Many believe that Asian people are to blame for the pandemic. The use of incorrect rhetoric to describe the virus such as the “Chinese virus” or “kung flu” has further pushed this notion, and further pushed the belief that when people are Asian, they automatically aren’t American. The Asian community becomes increasingly more vulnerable with each attack, yet many times they have not led to arrests or not been charged as hate crimes. On March 16th, for example, a white man shot eight people, six of which were women of Asian descent, at multiple spas in the Atlanta area. After his arrest, he denied having racial motives and told authorities his reason was his “sexual addiction.” Many others are trying to excuse his actions, by simply saying “he had a bad day” or “he was at the end of his rope” when it was clear there was racist intent behind it. This is just one of the many examples of people attempting to justify racism and xenophobia towards the Asian community.
However, change is coming. President Biden has started to take action to condemn anti-Asian bias and violence by visiting AAPI leaders in Atlanta as well as calling on Congress to pass the Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act. The Senate later on passed a bill denouncing discrimination against Asians that would direct the departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to start raising awareness of these hate crimes and help establish online reporting of them. The bill will then go to the House, and then signed into law by the president. Change is coming.