Violence Against AAPI Communities: It's Not Okay
Originally published on The Black and White April edition.
Elderly Asian men and women are being kicked out of their wheelchairs on the street, helplessly tumbling to the ground with bystanders filming just feet away. Hardworking business owners are being spat at with vulgar language and are ridiculed for their skin color and facial features. Blame, hate, and violence have shifted their targets to the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities (AAPI) to the point where guns are shattering small businesses, and Asians of every age are wondering whether or not to set foot outside their homes.
There shouldn’t be any hesitation to address the fact that this is wrong. It’s not okay.
Xenophobia is a burden America has carried on its shoulders for generations. Dating back more recently to the Black Lives Matter movement and hate on Asian immigration, there are many events that people still mourn to this day—such as the killing of George Floyd, the shooting of Breonna Taylor, and most recently, the killing of eight people at an Atlanta spa on March 16th, 2021. “Eight people killed. Seven women. Six of Asian descent,” President Joe Biden says in a speech addressing the massacre. “All fellow Americans—each one we mourn. Their families are left with broken hearts and unanswered questions, and the investigation is ongoing, and the vice president and I are being regularly updated by the attorney general and the director of the FBI. Working closely with Governor Kemp and Mayor Bottoms and local officials. But whatever the motivation, we know this: too many Asian Americans have been walking up and down the streets and worrying. Waking up each morning the past year feeling their safety and the safety of their loved ones are at stake.”
As an Asian American, I have experienced what it feels like to be judged, blamed, and hurt. I’ve walked down a street in the city where I grew up, hand in hand with my father of Asian American heritage, and was told to go back to “where I belong.” I’ve sat with a friend who hasn’t yet reached her teen years who pinches her nose daily—wishing she didn’t have to listen to the bullies who judged her for her face. I’ve been sent videos of taxi drivers who are punched in the back by violent passengers, couples walking down city streets who are shoved towards speeding cars, tired workers coming home from their jobs on the bus who are approached by men and women who pull their hair and grab their bags, women who are walking out of restaurants in tears because of rude men stretching their eyes to mock their faces, people who are thrown out of their cars, sworn at, and worst of all, blamed for the virus that has killed many people over the past year.
From me to you. There is pain, there is worry, there is violence, there is devastation. There is a community you can be part of, a community you can support—because Asian Americans deserve people who know racism isn’t okay. Asian Americans need someone to walk up to them and tell them they have every reason to be scared, that they, and their allies, need to address not one, but hundreds and thousands of hate crimes going on in America right now. No one wants to see another person being lifted off their feet and thrown on the concrete floor right before their eyes. So I ask you this—what are you going to do about it?
Whether you’re American Indian, African American, Hispanic, White, Pacific Islander, or Asian—pain isn’t something that should affect one race when others show violence. Since the start of COVID-19 one year ago, more than 3,800 Asian hate crimes have been reported in America. This virus called racism will not fade unless we unite until there are no cracks between us for it to slip through. Don’t “like” that video on Instagram or Facebook that shows a group of haters who bring an elderly Asian woman to tears. Tell everyone why it’s wrong. Tell everyone, whether that’s your family, friends, or people online, that racism against any ethnicity is not okay. Tell them that Asian Americans are being handed the pain now and that pain is burning their hands and leaving scars. Think of a little boy or girl in a dark corner—hungry, alone, and hurt. Why would you walk past when you could do something to help?