There has been a recent wave of Anti-Asian violence occurring all over the country. In 2020 alone, the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate received 2,800 reports, 240 of which were physical assaults. In January, a 91 year-old man in Oakland’s Chinatown was shoved to the ground, and an 84 year-old Thai man died after a physical assault in San Francisco. At the end of February, there were four incidents of assault in New York city toward Asian Americans, including a 71 year-old woman.
The contributions of Americans of Asian descent seems to be little known or covered over with bigotry based in stereotyping. Asian immigrants’ role in shaping the American identity is often unknown or forgotten. Many were recruited by the United States to work as miners, railroad builders, farmers, factory workers and fisherman. The Chinese alone represented 20% of California’s labor force by 1870 even though they constituted only .002% of the United States population.
Amid complaints that they were taking away jobs from white Americans, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882, restricting Chinese immigration based on race for the next sixty years. Anti-Chinese legislation and violence raged throughout the West Coast. In 1905, the San Francisco School Board stated “Our children should not be placed in any position where their youthful impressions may be affected by association with pupils of the Mongolian race.”
American citizens of Asian descent are once again experiencing the violent verbal and physical attacks of the past based on the unfounded belief that they are responsible for the pandemic. How does this country reconcile violence with freedom and justice for all?
What we do know is these attacks must end and there must be a call for justice. Dialogue on Race Louisiana wants to amplify and support the voices of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. We encourage listening, having conversations, and checking in with members of the AAPI community around us. We invite everyone to add their voice to the call for an end to this violence.
So what can you do?
1. Listen and educate yourself on the AAPI experience.
- The New York Times provided a brief overview of the uptick in violence, as well as the complexities of speaking up for Asian Americans.
- In 2020, PBS aired a five hour film series titled Asian Americans, delivering a look at how Asian Americans have shaped our nation’s history.
- This article from The Washington Post interviews historian Ellen Wu about her book “The Color of Success” and the model minority stereotype.
2. Support your local AAPI-owned businesses. Weeks before the stay at home orders closed many businesses around the United States, AAPI-owned businesses were suffering due to misinformation surrounding the Coronavirus outbreak. Supporting those businesses is more important than ever before.
3. Hold the media accountable for sharing these stories. Many people are only hearing about the increase in hate crimes from social media posts made by nonprofits or influencers. Tag your local news media in these stories and ask why they are not getting coverage.
4. Donate to organizations doing the work.
- Stop AAPI Hate
- Hate Is A Virus
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus
- The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans
- Support the Cause Against Anti-Asian Violence
5. Speak up! Stop AAPI Hate published this guide for those experiencing or witnessing hate.