I am filled with sorrow and rage.
In the last year, violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has surged 149% according to a recent article in Time. It is sickening and heartbreaking. The most recent attack gaining national attention happened last week in Atlanta on March 16th, killing 8 people, 6 of whom were Asian women in what has still yet to be classified as a hate crime.
There has been a long history of anti-Asian rhetoric and action in our country -- the Chinese Exclusion Act and Japanese Internment, to name just two large government-sponsored acts against Asians. This last year's spike in anti-Asian hatred feels so closely linked to Trump's racist remarks around the COVID-19 global pandemic which he repeatedly referred to as the "China Virus," thus putting blame on an entire people group and inciting fear, xenophobia and hatred against people of Asian heritage.
As we have seen all year, COVID has ripped back the veil of a post-racial America showing racism is alive and active. The increase in anti-Asian violence was already in full swing in March of 2020 when my podcast partner Danielle Castillejo sat down with the Allender Center's Wendell Moss and Seattle area high school teacher and coach Dan Taylor on the Arise Podcast. This conversation, now over a year old, continues to feel relevant today in terms of recognizing that we are still seeing racial trauma lived out as a collective experience.
And it is not just a "black and white" issue. While there has been countless accounts of police brutality against Blacks and African Americans; in the last year the horror of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the White Supremacy on display in the murder of Ahmaud Aubrey, and so many other hate crimes against Blacks, they aren't the only group who have been targeted. Asian Americans have been verbally assaulted, their businesses vandalized, the voices silenced and their lives threatened and ultimately taken.
In contrast to the proceeding administration, President Biden openly condemned anti-Asian violence, ordered all flags to be at half-mast in honor of those lives lost, and along with Vice President Harris visited Atlanta in support of the Asian community. These actions say, "We see you. We hear you. And we will not idly stand by." They set an example for us; we too cannot remain silent and watch hate, racism and white supremacy snuff out lives. Sometimes it feels like we can't possibly do enough with a problem this far spread and this deeply entrenched and yet as Wendell Moss said, "Don't underestimate what one person can do."
Here's a few things you can do to stand against anti-Asian Violence:
1. Don't look away. Pay attention to what is happening around you and in our nation. Spend some time and get educated on the experiences of Asian Americans. A great place to start would be PBS's 5 Part Documentary "Asian Americans." Find out the specific history in your town, your state by connecting to your local library, historical society or museums.
2. "If you see something, say something." Report anti-Asian violence to your local authorities and to organizations like Stop Anti-Asian and Pacific Islander Hate. Commit to not remaining silent while racist jokes and memes are said or shared: Speak out and speak up.
3. Donate your time and your money. To help the families and communities that have been impacted by the March 16th shooting, the Atlanta's branch of the Asian American Advancing Justice Organization set up a fund which you can give to that goes directly to those families. You can also support your local Asian owned and operated businesses by frequenting their establishments and sharing them on social media.
Stop. Asian. Hate.