Anti-asian hate crimes in Canada have spiked nearly seven hundred percent since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The news is filled with hate stories, like the Asian women in Atlanta who were viciously murdered at their place of work and the elderly Asian woman in San Francisco attacked on the street in broad daylight. Despite these news stories, the narrative being perpetuated doesn’t identify these acts as hate crimes. Instead, the Atlanta shooter, Robert Aaron Long, was simply “having a bad day.”
The failure to acknowledge these acts as hate crimes stems from the bigger issue of neglecting the racism in our society. Attributing the heinous attacks on Asians to a bad mood, a random occurrence, or a sex addiction does not represent the reality we live in. The fact is, Asian people are being targeted and discriminated against because of their race.
Robert Aaaron Long’s desire to “eliminate” the temptation of his sex addiction by targeting Atlanta spas is a by-product of the racial fetishization Asian women have delt with for centuries. Asian women are constantly seen as exotic, submissive, and hypersexual. This idea dates back to 1875, when the Page Act prohibited Chinese women from entering the United States under the assumption that they were prostitutes. Today, Western media immortalizes this stereotype of Asian women, contributing to the dehumanizing of Asians as a fetish for white males.
Asian people are not only fetishized in our society – they’re treated as inferior. Alongside the unprovoked attacks on elderly Asian people and stereotypes surrounding Asian names and culture, Asian people are constantly faced with microaggressions. Take the incidence of NBA player Jeremy Lin, for example. Lin was called ‘coronavirus’ on the court, and the fellow NBA player who was responsible has not been identified nor penalized. If reputable sports institutions cannot even hold the perpetrators of racist acts accountable, it’s terrifying to think about the day-to-day experiences Asian people must deal with on their own.
Why is this important right now? To understand the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes, it’s crucial to understand the fetishization and racism directed towards Asian people. These stereotypes stem from hundreds of years worth of racist history, and is continuously perpetuated in today’s culture and media. To fix this narrative, it’s important to be an ally to minority groups that face increased rates of racism and microaggressions. Just because you don’t experience it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. In fact, it can have detrimental consequences for many people in this world, and it’s up to all of us to create an environment free of hatred.