While the first surge in anti-Asian American violence was not the focus of the media, this second surge has led to more widespread coverage. From Asian American social media influencers talking more candidly about their experiences to the events in Georgia taking over the media, Asian American communities are still the target of violence and discrimination as members of those communities continue to be blamed unfairly for the pandemic.
The number of hate crimes against Asian Americans has dramatically increased since the start of the pandemic. Since many of these assaults are not being classified as hate crimes or go unreported out of fear, it is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of incidents as a result of the pandemic. However, research released by Stop AAPI Hate shows that during the course of the last year, almost 3,800 incidents were reported (to the nonprofit, which does not report incidents to police).
Many speculate that this rise in anti-Asian hate stems from former President Donald Trump’s use of xenophobic language when referring to COVID-19. A study by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) found that the March 16, 2020 tweet by Trump directly led to a major increase in the use of anti-Asian hashtags.
Reports include brutal attacks that have created widespread fear and anxiety in Asian American communities. A Chinese American woman reported that a “man on the subway slapped my hands, threatened to throw his lighter at me, then called me a ‘c—- b—-.’ He then said to ‘get the f— out of NYC.’” Another woman reported that while “on the escalator in the transfer station, a man repeatedly punched my back and pushed past us. At the top, he circled back toward us, followed us, repeatedly shouted “Chinese b**ch” at me, fake coughed at, and physically threatened us.”
Although the start of the pandemic marked an increase in violence against Asian American communities, the presence of racism toward Asian Americans is nothing new. “Racism is never far below the surface in America, which is all too evident as the AAPI community has experienced escalating attacks and targeted violence during the pandemic,” Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, writes on Twitter in response to the news.
Hirono, along with Editor in Chief of Allure magazine, Michelle Lee, believes that the only way to fight this increase in violent racism is to move past raising awareness and also actively become anti-racist. Lee states “the recent anti-Asian rhetoric opened the door to more people acting on their racism. It was upsetting to many of us that it was so difficult to get others outside of our own circles to care.” With the recent rise in media attention to the anti-Asian hate, reports have also increased, showcasing retroactively even more incidents. Asian American leaders are calling on the public to dismantle the misleading and harmful stereotypes like the model minority myth. While the pandemic seems to be coming to a close, the racism Asian Americans are facing seems far from over.