Racism across the country is spreading as fast as the coronavirus. East Asian communities continue to be targeted in public spaces and subjected to physical and verbal violence as misconceptions of the pandemic and stereotypes prevail. In New York alone, dozens of Asian Americans have reported or shared incidents of hate crimes due to individuals associating COVID-19 with Asians in all five boroughs. In one incident, a 51-year-old woman riding a bus in the Bronx was attacked by a woman and three teenagers who beat her with an umbrella while yelling anti-Asian slurs on March 28.
The three 15-year-old girls were arrested at the scene and charged with hate crime assault, menacing, harassment, police officials said. The victim was taken to the hospital where injuries to the woman’s face required stitches. Police are still seeking the other suspect who fled the bus after the attack, NBC News reported.
According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), “hate crime incidents against Asian Americans likely will surge across the United States.” This prediction has been made “based on the assumption that a portion of the US public will associate COVID-19 with China and Asian American populations,” the FBI said in a report.
The rise in xenophobia against Asian Americans has prompted the launch of a new website, Stop AAPI Hate, by Russell Jeung, a professor at San Francisco State University. The website documents racist acts and has received more than 1,000 incident reports in less than two weeks of its launch. "We found hundreds of articles about policies that people thought were xenophobic, economic boycotts of Asian businesses and then later on about interactions that Asian Americans were having where people were bullying, taunting, harassing and now attacking," Jeung told NPR.
Hate crimes against East Asian identifying individuals have increased at an alarming rate across the globe. U.S. officials, including Senator Bernie Sanders, have spoken out against the unacceptable targeting of Asian Americans however, discrimination against Asian communities continues especially by those who join Donald Trump in calling the global pandemic the "Chinese virus”.
While Asian communities and influencers continue to speak up against the violence on social media and other platforms, many crimes go unreported. It is the responsibility of not only our officials but all those who can to speak up against these horrific incidents. In partnership with the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, the Anti-Defamation League and 258 other groups have written a letter to lawmakers to address this issue. “The best way to stop the spread of coronavirus is to wash your hands, not perpetuate racist stereotypes,” the letter reads. “We ask for your help in spreading this message, to help stem both the public health crisis and the deeply disturbing racism targeting the Asian American community.” Targeting Asian communities will not prevent the virus from spreading nor better the circumstances the pandemic has brought upon us. Our leaders and community need to rise up against this hate that is fueled by the misconceptions and misinformation spread in society, this is not an “Asian virus” but a global pandemic.