Anti-Asian hate is a national crisis

Trevor Gulock, Staff Writer

As our modern global social climate progresses towards inclusion of a greater domain of perspectives, including the neglected experiences of minority groups — including, but not limited to, narratives of race, gender, sexuality, religion and disability — it is painful to watch humanity stumble in accepting these differences and the society which has marginalized them. Recognizing our own biases and discriminatory beliefs is a challenging responsibility; not only does being cognizant of what may feel like minute or unintentional behavior require a greater degree of self-introspection than conscious bias, but it is always much easier to simply believe that one possesses no bias at all. Nonetheless, it is obvious that no one is truly impartial, and we all contain our own forms of bias or prejudice which express themselves in often pernicious ways. Because of our ignorance of what causes unconscious prejudice, serious and even heinous discriminatory offenses happen everyday, and we are as yet uncertain why hate has apparently become intertwined with human nature. Does it stem from childhood upbringing, a lack of understanding of those who are different from us, or is it, quite simply, pain? After the introduction of the novel coronavirus, those of Asian descent — especially in North America and Europe — have faced relentless taunting from the media, politicians and anyone who knows Wuhan, China as nothing more than the place of COVID-19’s origin. While it is important to acknowledge that this disease has influenced pain and frustration on a global scale, it is no excuse for the tragedies, assaults and loss of lives that have transpired across the United States within the past few weeks. 

According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, a 149 percent increase in anti-Asian American hate crimes has occurred between the years 2019 and 2020; it is irrefutable that Asian hate is an issue that should be at the forefront of socio-political concern – not only because of this sudden peak in targeted injustice, but because many suspect that the American justice system is turning a blind eye to these attacks. One attack, occurring in New York City on a cold March evening, reported that a Chinese man had been stabbed in the back without the perpetrator and victim having so much as an exchange of words. Police concluded there was a lack of evidence for a racist motive. Another assault inspiring fear in the Asian-American community took place in Atlanta, Ga., after a white man opened fire, killing eight people, six of whom were women of Asian descent. Police concluded the the suspect began his rampage as a form of vengeance for his “sexual addiction.” While it would be unreasonable to assume every Asian-American victim of a crime is a result of Asian hate, those a part of this community want it acknowledged by the American government that there is, in fact, an anti-Asian intolerance enduring in present day American culture. With 1.2 million residents of New York City identifying themselves as of Asian heritage, large volumes of members and friends of the Asian community are protesting. Lu-in Wang, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh, notes that “there’s a recognizable prototype with anti-Black or anti-Semitic or anti-gay hate crime, [acts of prejudice against other minority groups] are often more clear-cut.” He is referring to the lack of symbolic representation and education on what hate can look like against Asian-Americans. There is no noose or swastika which uniquely symbolizes Asian discrimination as those former symbols identify white supremacy and anti-Black racism, and Chinese-Americans often are looked at as a ‘model minority’: always successful, rarely a subject of sympathy or compassion. Therefore, American society is more likely to dismiss Asian hate – but this community wants their fear heard.

As a student in the progress of obtaining a Mandarin Chinese minor here at the University, it pains me to recognize that my professors, teaching assistants, friends and even roommate might feel scared to live in this country which promises to be founded upon democracy, might be neglected the offer of empathy and understanding given these tragic headlines. It is vital that Asian-hate be acknowledged in these charges, just as it was vital that diverse representation be included in Hollywood, just as it was vital that the effects of the Holocaust be implemented in the American core curriculum, in part so that each individual takes a deeper look as to how their own biases might be affecting those around them. I will conclude with a common expression in China which one of my Chinese friends here as recently explained to me, ‘己所不欲勿施于人’ (Jǐ suǒ bù yù wù shī yú rén); the loose translation is similar to that of the Golden Rule; “do unto others, do not impose on others.” Today, it is not only important to be kind to others, and accept those around you who might feel different than you, but join in allyship with this community and uplift Asian voices that may not feel heard. 

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