A human emergency
The current Covid pandemic emergency has put economies on their knees and has endangered the lives of millions of people around the world.
However, we don’t only have a health emergency, we also have a human one.
In May 2020, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scaremongering” and urged “everyone, everywhere, to stand up against hate, treat each other with dignity and take every opportunity to spread kindness.”
Nearly one year later, the situation has not improved, and the Asian community is the target of hate crimes across many countries.
People of Asian descendant around the world have been the target of violence and hate.
In UK data suggests a rise of 300% in hate crimes towards Chinese, East and South East Asians in the first quarter of 2020;
In a New Zealand report, 54% of Chinese respondents reported being the target of discrimination since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic;
The US research released by Stop AAPI Hate revealed 3,795 incidents with women reporting twice as many anti-Asian hate incidents as men.
These are just a snippet of the public data we have available regarding the situation.
Pre- vs. post-pandemic
Anti-Asian racism was a problem well before the pandemic, but it has become significantly worse because of it. Media and politicians have helped spread the idea that the pandemic is linked to Asian people, more specifically to Chinese. For instance, Trump repeatedly referred to it as the “Chinese virus” or the “Kung flu”. A recent study shows that racist anti-Asian hashtags spiked after Trump first tweeted ‘Chinese virus’ on March 16, 2020.
The victims of these attacks are often the most vulnerable including elders and women. Some of the most recent examples include the following.
On the 17th of March 2021, while waiting at a stoplight in San Francisco, a 76-year-old Chinese woman was attacked by a man in his thirties. The same man attacked an 83-year-old Vietnamese man earlier that day.
A day before that, in Atlanta, a 21-years old man drove to 3 Asian Massage spas and killed 8 people, 6 being Asian women. The police officer, the spokesman for the case, commented on the killer’s action saying “he was pretty much fed up and had been, kind of, at the end of his rope. And yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”
This last episode has shined the light on the Asian hate crimes and the struggles of the community all around the world. On social media, people are asking to be heard and to support Asian communities through hashtags such as #StopAsianHate.
"... yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did."
It is not acceptable that a community is treated with such violence and discrimination, no members of any community should be living in fear of their safety. We all can (and should) do something, even in small ways: talk about it, support people in need, inform ourselves about what’s going on.
Things need to change, and we need to participate in that change.