One out of five Asian Americans will experience a hate-related incident, and with rising tensions between China and the United States, we will not be silenced when the next round of Asian scapegoating comes for us.
The publication “Stop AAPI Hate”reported last year that hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — or AAPI — continue to rise. Between March 2020 and March 2022, more than 11,400 reported hate-related incidents have taken place against AAPIs across the United States. This number is likely underreported, as more than 7,000 police departments don’t even report hate crimes.
Chinese Americans in particular were unjustly blamed for bringing the COVID-19 pandemic to the U.S., but because of the cross-race effect, many AAPI were included in that hate. COVID-19 brought back violent crimes and harassment to the community on a level that had not existed since World War II.
Today, tensions between China and the U.S. are at an all-time high, with members of Congress suggesting we are at the beginning of a new Cold War. A specialized committee has been formed to condemn China after the FBI labeled it the biggest threat to the U.S. in the last year. The forced removal of American businesses from Hong Kong, the use of TikTok to spy on American journalists and the spy balloon shot down in American airspace are making Americans not only nervous and hateful toward China, but also towards AAPIs.
What started as reasonable security concerns has since devolved into hysteria. Texas legislators have proposed a bill preventing Chinese people from owning land in Texas, AAPI businesses are being bombed and violent hate crimes have made national headlines with little constructive response.
Doubters argue that discrimination against Asian Americans is an exaggerated narrative. For example, the mass shooting at the Lunar New Year festival in Los Angeles was quickly assumed to be a hate crime before it was revealed the criminal was an Asian American. Media quickly retracted this speculation afterward. In addition, AAPI are still less likely to be victims of violent crimes as compared to white Americans and African Americans, and the majority of AAPIs will never have to hear the words, “Go back to your country.”
However, this does not excuse AAPIs being stigmatized due to another country’s actions. We live in the U.S. We have nothing to do with China’s political agenda, and to punish us for foreign politics is simply a symptom of American insecurity.
It is sickening to see AAPI communities have to demonstrate their loyalty to the U.S. after generations of sacrifice to get to where we are today. If Americans use the next Cold War to bully AAPIs, then it is everyone’s responsibility to speak up.
We can pursue preventative measures, we can spread awareness by sharing our stories and we can remind our peers that being Asian is not a threat. We are not responsible for what foreign nations do. We are just as American as you.
It may seem silly to have to remind the public of AAPI hate, but it is still too soon to forget about it. It was less than a year ago that our own city gained national attention for the shooting of three Korean women.
If you or a loved one feel in danger, you can report hate crimes to local police or to the FBI.
If you are in crisis, you can call lines like 988 or 741741 Texas.