All across the country, Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities are rising up to protest, march and rally against the significant rise in Anti-Asian violence, harassment and attack. The Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Dept. of San Francisco State University noticed a rise in Anti-Asian sentiment after the Covid pandemic took a foothold in this country and launched the STOP AAPI Hate reporting center on March 19, 2020. Prior to that date, there was no centralized national organization that gathered and documented hate crimes against APIs. The STOP AAPI Hate center now has been tracking and responding to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against AAPIs in the United States.
As of February 28, 2021, STOP AAPI Hate has reported 3,795 incidents. These attacks have shockingly been targeted toward women and the elderly. On March 16, 2021, 8 people in Atlanta GA were treacherously murdered including 6 of those Asian American women and four of whom were of Korean descent. Cherokee County Sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker declined to call the crime a hate crime but instead claimed the perpetrator was “having a bad day,” and “did not appear to be motivated by a racial bias.”
This cold-blooded killing sparked an outcry in the AAPI community and rallies and protests were held throughout the United States. Even my small town of La Canada in Southern California hosted about 150 one Friday afternoon who rallied and shouted “Stop Asian Hate” and “Enough is Enough.” I attended half-heartedly and honestly thinking, “Well, those shootings were pretty bad.” Never did I think I would be a target.
Because my town is 25% AAPI and located in Los Angeles County, I was shocked when I too became a target of AAPI Hate. On Sunday, March 28th, my mom called me to hurry home as we were late for the “Sunday rally.” As I pulled up to a red light, I noticed the car next to me moving back and forth in the lane. When I glanced over, that driver motioned for me to open my window. I thought, “Oh, maybe he needs directions.” As soon as I opened my window, I could see his eyes were burning with anger and he yelled, “What the fuck, you Chinese Fucker!” The light then turned green and startled me, I proceeded to drive when suddenly I noticed he suddenly attempted to swerve his car into mine. I luckily managed to dodge the man’s attack and escape unscathed. I have never experienced something as hateful and shocking as that. My mom called the sheriff and an initial report has been filed classifying this as a hate crime.
According to the Pew Research Center, AAPIs identify with over 20 countries and many different languages. Yet, in the U.S. because we “all look the same”, what seemingly affects one of us, affects us all. The “Chinese Virus” and the “Kung Flu” used by some leaders in this country has overflowed into hate, blame and anger being directed to all AAPIs in this country whether we have lived here for multiple generations or newly immigrated. We are perpetually seen as foreigners who don’t belong here simply due to an immutable trait, our appearance. As schools and businesses still remain closed or limited, concerns about the virus, families, jobs, and college grow; so now I and all people who look like me now have to worry about the safety of our lives?
Anti-Asian racism and discrimination is not new. It has been experienced since the first AAPI immigrants arrived in this country, we have been treated as sub-human in almost every facet of society including the military and film and yet when will this hate and prejudice come to an end?
I am just a high school student but will continue to advocate for what I believe in and for what is right. AAPIs must be engaged in the political process, run for office and pursue fields of influence such as in law enforcement and the judiciary, education, arts and entertainment. I do not have a strong voice by myself, however, that is why we must come together and join our voices as one. The AAPI community is the fastest growing immigrant population in the United States and now is the time to raise our voices.The AAPI community has awoken and is rising up! Enough is Enough!