Anti-Asian hatred needs to be taken more seriously
As we cross the first anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, it has become increasingly evident that Americans are unable to overcome racism. Even as I write these lines, someone is probably the victim of discriminatory behavior because of their ethnicity. Anti-Asian racism, in particular, has increased due to the pandemic and our inability to move forward.
Americans seem to want to forget the dark history of their country and pretend that all of its effects are gone as well. But as we’ve all learned, racism and hate can rear their heads when they feel like it. Even before the pandemic, from 2018 to 2019, hate crimes against Asian Americans jumped 6.76%, without the inclusion of pandemic rhetoric against Asians. Google searches for anti-Asian terms have increased sharply since January 2020, and in particular on Twitter.
Former President Donald Trump, calling the COVID-19 pandemic a “Chinese virus,” has created a significant increase in searches in China and Chinese. The terms coined by the president have seen significant internet activity, including “Kung flu”. Internet searches for the anti-Asian insult “loophole” also increased from January 2020. Especially on the politically incorrect 4chan forum, anti-Asian slurs surfaced with astonishing frequency.
And it’s not just on the Internet. A poll by Ipsos found that 3 in 10 Americans held China responsible for the virus, and many believed it was caused by a laboratory in China, or even a bioterrorism attack by the Chinese government. Cases of violence have also increased significantly. Although the FBI did not release its hate crime statistics until November of the following year, a self-reported website, Stop Asian Hate, had received 2,583 reports of anti-Asian hate crimes as of August 2020.
According to these reports, “seven out of ten incidents involved verbal harassment, which included racist slurs, slurs and name-calling” and “physical assaults made up 9% of the incidents”. The increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans is expected to have risen 149% based on self-reported data, but it’s impossible to know how many choose not to report.
Although the national level of hate crimes fell 9% nationally in 2020, racism experienced by Asian Americans has increased to levels not seen since the end of World War II. Some members of the United States government have increased hostility towards Asians and led to an increase in violence and hatred directed against them.
Government officials in many different positions have directly or indirectly blamed Asians for the pandemic, and that language seems to have shifted to their constituents as well. Texas Congressman Chip Roy, after the mass shooting of 8 people, mostly Asians, called an anti-Asian discrimination hearing a violation of free speech and said “all Americans deserve to ‘to be protected’. He then referred to the lynching and strongly criticized the Chinese government, while equating the mass shootings with protests against police brutality in the spring of 2020. The blatant disregard for the well-being of many of his constituents seems to reflect the mentality of certain audiences. responsible – that the increase in hate crimes and discrimination against Asians is not significant enough for them.
Anti-Asian racism is something that needs to be taken more seriously and talked about more regularly. Something needs to be done to help the millions of Asian Americans in this country, and prayers are not enough to fix it. We must find a solution.
Abby Scheeser is a senior at Mariemont High School and lives in Mariemont.