“Stop AAPI Hate”: An AAPI student’s perspective

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The Catalyst / Viviana Rishe via Upsplash

People all of the world are gathering to protest against AAPI hate crimes and violence and show their support for the community.

Asian hate and discrimination in America are not new. From the wave of Chinese immigration in the 1850s to the Japanese-Americans scapegoated during World War II to now, Asians have constantly been taken advantage of and blamed for things out of their control.

The latest issue is COVID-19. The first reported case was traced back to Wuhan, a large urban city in China. Unfortunately, due to its origins, the blame has been placed on Asians as a whole.

Attacks, mainly on the elderly, began to occur everywhere, inspiring new ones as they occurred. In our own backyard, San Francisco, where there is a large and well-established Asian population, there were multiple instances of racially motivated hate crimes, many involving physical assault such as the “Slap an Asian” challenge, against the Asian population.

Recently, just going out for neighborhood walks is considered a risk. On one occasion, my cousin and I were walking their dog, and we both had to bundle up to avoid recognition. Wearing hats, sunglasses, masks to distort our features to prevent being pinpointed as Asian. In one hand we were carrying the dog leash and in the other, pepper spray.

After being labeled the “model minority” and having a significant part of the country compare Asians to white people as being on the same socio-economic level and even criticized as dominating in admissions to colleges, the racist backlash of the pandemic is an important reminder of how embedded racism is in the minds of our country.

As an Asian-American student, I have been fortunate enough to stay out of the majority of the conflict. However, although the insults do not equate to actual violence, they still hurt. The comments and microaggressions made at the expense of the community are just as harmful. Knowing that Asians are still the butt of the joke, that our accents and culture are considered funny, makes me feel unsafe.

But despite all the hatred, there is a counter-balancing positive effect. The outcries of hate, while upsetting, have inspired a wave of kind acts and have spurred generous spirits to not only recognize the problem but to prompt change.

In today’s environment where society is more communicative than ever due to technological advancements, hate crimes gain more visibility than ever before, allowing racism to be challenged promptly with an overwhelming call for equality. People all over the country are working with the APPI community in different ways, small and large, to do their part of being allies and making their voices heard.

If anything good came out of this pandemic it is change.

 

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