Since the beginning of the pandemic, a surge of Asian-American hate crimes have risen throughout the United States, with incidents centering in the Bay Area and New York.
On Jan 28, 2021 in San Francisco, 84 year-old Thai immigrant Vichar Ratanapakdee was aggressively shoved to the ground by an unknown assailant in front of his own home. He later succumbed and died from a brain hemorrhage in the hospital. Authorities have since arrested 19 year-old Antione Watson and was charged on suspicion of murder and elder abuse.
The senseless attack on Mr.Vichar became the beacon call for action against Asian-American hate crime all over the Bay Area. Local residents fear for the safety of their eldery family members and demand for an increase of police presence in the downtown area. Many believe the crimes are rooted in the racial backlash of the pandemic towards Asian-Americans.
Moreover within that same week, in San Jose, CAa 64 year-old Vietnamese woman was attacked and robbed by two men. She was assaulted while withdrawing money at an atm for Lunar New Year and was left beaten on the ground.
In New York, a 61 year-old Filipino man was brutally slashed across the face with a box cutter on a subway and barely escaped with his life.
In Oakland, CA, a 91 year-old man was pushed and thrown to the ground by an identified man and went into a coma.
These crimes have only increased and up to twenty attacks have been reported since January. Attacks consist of racial slurs, physical attacks, being spat on and so forth.
Furthermore, the shortage of news coverage and headlines about these attacks created a lack of awareness among communities locally and across the country. An interview with Barangay Chabot, a Filipino-American club at Chabot college, revealed that even among young college students, the news of these attacks were unforeseen and sudden.
“I just felt disappointed and heartbroken that it wasn’t getting the same coverage as a lot of other stories do and it sucks that it’s being downplayed. a lot of people even know about the hate crimes going on, unless you’re on social media [like] instagram.” expressed club member Rebecca Swain.
The club members also voiced their opinions about how police are handling these investigations and their trust in higher authority is being shaken. Gerald Mayupao says,
“I think those in power, they don’t want people to see this as an issue and gather together and try to start movements again… I just feel like when it comes down to trying to investigate hate crimes and try to get publicized, there’s definitely people out there who try not to leak out this information so it doesn’t stir up a commotion.
A lot of activists are fighting against what has happened, and I feel like these people [higher authority] didn’t want that to happen.”
More than half of these crimes have not been investigated as hate-crimes due to insufficient evidence that may conclude it as a “hate crime”. According to Cythia Choi, Co-Executive Director of the Chinese for Affirmative Action, the National Data on Anti-Asian Hate Incidents have summed up that;
- Most crimes are considered “incidents” and not hate crimes
- There are crimes reported from all 50 states, includin the District of Columbia
- 56% of the incidents took place in either California or New York
- Women are likely to encounter hate 2.3x more than men
- 6% of the victims are seniors (ages 60+)
Choi expresses, “It’s very disturbing to see that 70 percent of our respondents are women. And it isn’t surprising to women…
“to women of color, that we encounter much more street harassment… we encounter more sexualized, misogynistic, racist kinds of experiences…these are stories we are getting and younger women are experiencing this at a higher rate.”
There are also the issues of fear among Asian communities or the lack of information to report incidents, making it difficult to get a real estimate of hate crimes happening in the nation.
“We know that this is just the tip of the iceberg, we know there are a lot of people who don’t know about a reporting center, [or] don’t want to go to a site and describe the trauma that they’ve encountered…we really see this as the canary in the coal mine.”says Choi.
The roots of xenophobia have greatly damaged many communities and right now, it is making waves within Asian communities, that perhaps it may be the catalyst for denying help from organizations such as AAPI. For club member Isabelle David, being part of the Filipino-American community, she has one message for her elders, “You don’t have to be resilient, we often glorify this idea of resilience…just getting through it in the face of struggle prevents a lot of us from getting the help that we need. [It] allows us to accept things that happen to us that we should not be accepting. I just want people to know that vulnerability is okay…
We deserve help.”
In that sense, the label “Model Minority ” comes to light and how much harm it does than good. The label stereotypes Asian communities as the “perfect” minority; silent, intelligent, and obedient as long as they are allowed to excel under the terms of the American dream. Hard-working in the face of diversity and never needing any assistance from other groups around them. It is the biggest misconception to describe Asian communities. It largely affects how Asians behave towards each other and how they expect treatment from other communities.
Ms.Choi emphasizes the importance of it’s negativity by stating,
“We don’t see [Model Minority] as positive, it erases part of our community and to know it was an intentional attempt to deny that there is structural racism…if Asians can pull themselves up by the bootstraps, then there must be something wrong with other racial or ethic groups, that somehow they’re not intellectually or culturally capable…that there is something wrong with their culture and values…as Asian-Americans, we have to wholeheartedly reject that [idea].”
The effects from the rise of hate against Asians has created a rift in the safety net and trust that communities have built with each other, especially for their local authorities. The shift has been prominent and ongoing, ever since the Civil Rights movement to the Black Lives Matter movement and now, through the Stop Asian-American and Pacific Islander Hate movement (Stop AAPI).
During March 2020 to March 2021, Stop AAPI reported 6,603 hate incidents spanning across the United States targeting Asians and Pacific Islanders. There have been increasing counts of violence and hate speech geared towards Asian communities, from the eldery down to young children experiencing hate in their schools.
- Children(17 and younger) targeted at 11%, while elders (61 and older) 6.6%.
- Physical assaults increased form 10.2% in 2020 to 16.7% in 2021
- Online hate incidents increased from 5.6% in 2020 to 10.2% in 2021
These “incidents” are only increasing in number each day and in order for an accurate account of these crimes, citizens are encouraged to report any crime they witness or experience to these reporitng sites;
New York State Hate Crimes Task Force: 1-888-392-3644 or text “Hate” to 81336
Stop AAPI Hate: Report hate crimes; incident forms are available in Chinese, Korean and other languages
Stand Against Hate: Report hate crimes via Asian Americans Advancing Justice (this page is available in Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese)
There have been too many casualties stemming from these hate-crimes that if there is a time to stand up against them, towards all and any races, that time is now.