The Asian-American community has experienced a sharp increase in discrimination, verbal attacks, and unprovoked violence toward the community. 2,308 anti-Asian discrimination cases occurred between Mar. 19 and Dec. 31, 2020, and has increased to 3,795 attacks as reported from the StopAAPI Organization. Starting with the rise of COVID-19 during March 2020 as well as the political remarks from Donald Trump calling the virus “China Plague” or “Kung Flu”.
“The news of the increasing attacks on Asian saddens me and has me scared for my grandparents and friends,” junior Madella Tai said. “People are way too comfortable expressing their racism, and it is putting our communities in danger.”
The more recent Asian American attack occurred in Atlanta, Georgia on March 16th in Cherokee County. Six of the eight victims were Asian-American.
“The fact that someone had the hate in them to murder innocent people makes me sick to my stomach,” freshman Sage Kushner said. “It was even sadder to see them and see that they look like some of my family members. And, the fact that it was ‘justified’ by saying the man was having a bad day, really makes it that much worse. ”
There have also been rising assault cases, targeted specifically toward the elderly Asian-Americans. Some victims included 75-year-old man Pak Ho in Oakland, 75-year old woman Xiao Zhen Xie in San Francisco, and 84-year old Vicha Ratanapakdee in San Francisco in which the attack led to his death.
“It’s disheartening and infuriating, both as a member of this targeted community and as a reporter who has to constantly write about these attacks,” freelance journalist Claire Wang said. “I personally have not experienced any racist attacks during the pandemic, but I do feel anxious and afraid when I’m out alone. Seeing so many people get attacked on social media and having no power to stop any of it has definitely taken a toll on my mental health.”
On March 12th, Kushner represented San Marin and took part in speaking at the Anti-AAPI Rally in San Rafael. Kushner addressed the effects of stereotyping and jokes, as well as the importance of spreading awareness through social media.
“The rally was beautiful. There were almost 200 people and they all were so different,” Kushner said. “I loved speaking to all those people about my personal experiences- and I think that hearing those things from a younger person gave them hope.”
Other awareness efforts have occurred within the Bay Area. A #StandForAsians rally was held in San Mateo on Feb. 27, organized by 13-year old Ashlyn So.
“I am so touched that so many people came out to support the cause,” So said. “We, Asians, have been invisible and silent for too long. They saw that if I, a quiet person myself, can bring the courage to speak out, they must come out to support as well. The day of, we saw the old, the very young, families, and young adults and of all races came out.”
Courtesy of Ashlyn So
Ashlyn So speaking at a #StandforAsians Rally in San Mateo. Rallies within the Bay Area have been playing a key role in providing support against AAPI discrimination
The Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate Organization was created at the start of the pandemic and gathered information, reporting a sharp increase from when the pandemic started.
“Asians are stereotyped as being disgusting, dirty, disease ridden people as much as we are stereotyped as smart with small eyes,” Tai said. “We are being blamed for a pandemic that is rampant in this country because of its people and government, not because of its small Chinese population. I’m very disappointed that many people do not take racism seriously until deaths start to pile up, since taking it seriously in the first place could have prevented them.”
Asian-Americans have reported feeling more blamed due to the pandemic, which has led to the rising cases of racism and discrimination.
“I’m not an expert on this subject, but I do believe the root cause of anti-Asian racism is white supremacy,” Wang said. “So I think more coalition building with Black and Latino folks needs to happen. There needs to be more funding for social service organizations in working-class Asian enclaves like Chinatown and Little Saigon.”
The rising discrimination toward the Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities pushed a memorandum signed from President Joe Biden in late January. It denounced xenophobia and violence against the AAPI community. Recently, Biden has also planned to appoint a director specifically to create plans to benefit the AAPI communities.
“Xenophobia is not limited to a specific group of immigrants. From the moment Asians have immigrated to this country to today, they have faced discrimination,” junior Ted Chor said. “COVID-19 has unfortunately exacerbated the prejudice and escalated the violence that the Asian-American community faces.
NUSD has created some efforts into addressing the Asian hate crimes. On March 25th, Restorative Justice Lead Specialist and TUPE coordinator Phoebe Smith held a “Listening Circle for SM Asian and Asian Descent Students and Staff”.
“I wanted to organize the listening circle to be a space where students felt safe to share experiences and not feel a sense of community and where the AAPI voice could be amplified, especially if you all felt like in general spaces on campus your voice is not heard,” Smith said.
Although NUSD organized some events, San Marin has not currently done anything as a school to spread awareness and educate students.
“I think San Marin should have a discussion about this stuff because it is an issue that exists and definitely affects our community,” senior Sarah Ng said. “People should also be more informed that Asian-Americans really have no direct link to their ethnic countries because in the end, Asian-Americans do not have any control over the actions of a country they’re not a citizen to.”
San Marin can start by including more education regarding the different cultures and history of Asian-American history.
“Having a statement from the school is great to set the tone and overall stand for everyone as a guide, but having the schools to include the study of different cultures, races and how minorities fit into american history as taught in the current curriculum is even more important,” So said. “I believe that it is through understanding, compassion, and empathy that we will learn to celebrate our differences and respect each other.”