The Assault on Asian Americans

Artwork by Rebeka Bernard

Artwork by Rebeka Bernard

“He was pretty much fed up and had kind of been at the end of his rope and yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” Officer Jay Baker said. These are the words casually uttered after six Asian women, out of a total of eight victims, were brutally murdered in an Anti-Asian shooting in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. The words “yesterday was a really bad day for him,” are being used to justify a mass murder. 

In the past year, due to COVID-19, many Asians around the world have been facing hate and violence. Unfortunately, due to the social stereotype of Asians being soft, dainty, quiet scholars, these hate crimes have been whisked away under a rug to never be talked about. We as people are always swept to the side as side figures in the story of racial discrimination, and we are being assaulted. 

As a child, I was always pointed out for having tanned skin, deep brown eyes, dark hair and, of course, “slanted eyes.” Kids would always make a show out of my appearance, and they would always mock me. Instances such as calling me “ching chong,” making rude comments about my entire body, or pulling their eyes back and singing Asian-style music weren’t uncommon. The bullying got to the point where I developed a low self-confidence. I felt I was unbelievably ugly, and had no redeeming qualities. I didn’t even learn about my own culture as a child because I felt so ashamed about where I came from.

There is an instance that still haunts me to this day. In 8th grade, my social studies teacher went around and asked all of the racial minorities in my class what their home life was like, without consent, in front of everyone in the class. She would ask about what we ate, what language we spoke, and how “unusual” our life was. This sent me into a panic, being asked these questions while already being discriminated against; it was jarring and it hurt.

Now, as I think back on my childhood, it was socially sad. No one ever understood where I was coming from, and even if the kids didn’t know the actual meaning behind their actions, it still ended up impacting me and many others. There are so many other Asians that have and are currently facing the same situations at greater levels.

This past year for many Asians has been hard as the hate crimes have become much worse. An 84-year-old Thai man was brutally beaten to death in broad daylight in San Francisco. An elderly Chinese woman was set ablaze on the streets of New York City. A man was pushed into the road in front of moving traffic. Intruders forcefully tried to enter a home while yelling slurs at 6-year old Asian twins. Many Asian-owned businesses have been vandalized and destroyed. 

In the United States, these situations, despite rising concern on these events, are dusted off like useless beings or as a joke. In the past, when topics of Asian American people are discussed, people often use petty excuses such as “you’re the model minority,” “you’re pale, you aren’t a person of color,” “your kind discriminates other people as well,” “you eat dogs and bats,” “you all look exactly the same,” “you aren’t oppressed, you people just don’t know your place.” These words heavily damage how people interact with Asians, and some of these words can end up creating a heavy rift in society, especially when people pass this off as a funny joke.

People also tend to generalize all Asian people into one person, like saying we all discriminate against other people, or we’re all Chinese, Korean or Japanese. So many people forget there are other people living in Asia who also are facing discrimination These places include India, the Philippines, Myanmar, United Arab Emirates and many more. If you forget these people, you are harming the community. 

Whenever we try to speak out we are always attacked or made fun of. There is this idea of saying “everyone has a voice,” but when another group needs support, people like to dismiss us or wipe away our problems. The more we try to stand up, the stronger the community gets. 

This mindset allows people to have a negative outlook on the Asian community. Every community has a few bad eggs, but when you group a few bad people together with the rest of a population, it starts to create an unrealistic image of a group of valid humans. You start to stereotype others, which is exactly what you preach against.

As of recently, many celebrities and people with large followings have taken to social media and spoken out against this hate. They have used their platforms to support our cause and spread what is happening in the world. Many Asian and Black communities have banded together to help spread awareness and stop hate.

Many communities have started to participate in activism, such as donating to charity, posting support on social media, and participating in protest. It isn’t just to support Stop Asian Hate, but it is also standing in solidarity for movements such as Black Lives Matter. This solidarity helps to spread our cause and start a conversation among people to get out and learn about what is happening and how it affects us as humans.

Joining together helps get our causes for both communities noticed. We need to make sure we use our platforms to speak out, and when combining forces, it makes people have a discussion on what really happens in the world and how we need to think about how we treat each other. 

I don’t doubt that we have a lot of support, but what we can do is join together to get rid of hate. For now, all I can hope for is that people continue to speak out about these crimes and against racial discrimination against Asians and every race experiencing these challenges. When we work together, we can help stop this hate.