As crimes against the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community increase nationwide, new data sheds light on the alarming surge. Hate crime data from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University-San Bernardino found that hate crimes against Asian Americans surged in 2020 in at least 15 cities. As the cities were further reviewed, a new report indicated that crimes against Asian Americans rose by 169% when comparing the first quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, NBC News reported.
The highest increase was observed in New York, where crimes have increased by 223%. California follows New York State with reported hate crimes going from an average of five to 12, a 140% increase.
The new data follows an initial report from March in which the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism found that hate crimes in the United States’ 16 largest cities decreased overall by 7% in 2020, but those targeting AAPI people rose by nearly 150%. Additionally, data released by Stop AAPI Hate around the same time found that almost 3,800 incidents of hate were reported over the last year during the pandemic.
Initial spikes in anti-Asian crimes began in March last year amid the start of the pandemic and have only gotten worse. The rise in hate crimes, which is likely to be a larger number than reported due to unreported crimes occurring nationwide daily, has been attributed to COVID-19 misinformation and anti-Asian bias. Despite the increasing number of awareness campaigns to end violence against the AAPI community, a new hate crime is reported daily across the U.S.
While hate crimes against the Asian American community are not new, the use of xenophobic terms like “Chinese virus,” “Wuhan virus,” and “Kung Flu” have been connected to a rapid surge in hate crimes nationwide. In many incidents, perpetrators of violence have blamed victims for spreading COVID-19 prior to attacking them. In one incident Daily Kos, reported a man stabbed an Asian American family while they were grocery shopping. He claimed that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese and infecting people with the coronavirus. His youngest victim was 2 years old.
Campaigns to politicians, lawmakers, and other leaders have addressed the connection between the language used to describe COVID-19 and rise in anti-Asian bias; however, GOP officials continue to use hateful rhetoric. Additionally, a study from the Pew Research Center found that about one-fifth of Asian Americans attributed attacks directly to former President Donald Trump and his rhetoric.
Since the start of the pandemic, Trump has been using xenophobic language to refer to the novel coronavirus and has blamed China for the spread. "Cause it comes from China. It's not racist at all, no, not at all. It comes from China, that's why. I want to be accurate," Trump said according to CNN. To this day, despite knowing about the rapid rise in hate crimes due to his use of language, Trump and his minions still continue to call the COVID-19 pandemic the “Chinese virus.”
Speaking to the rise in crimes against Asian Americans, sociologist and associate professor at the City University of New York's Graduate Center Van C. Tran told NBC News that hate crimes have generally increased in the last year, but the targeting of Asians has "exploded."
"What is unfortunate here is the fact that much of that hate and racism are being targeted towards one very small community in terms of population size," Tran said.
Tran also noted that the “fear, mistrust, distrust and anxiety” individuals have been facing amid the pandemic could also be contributing to the rise in crimes.
"I think this is a very, very unique moment whereby I see a lot of need for those cross-race, cross-class relationships and coalitions. Across the spectrum, each of the racial minority groups is facing a different form of othering," Tran added. "Some are more institutional. Others are more interpersonal — they are deeply connected, deeply linked to the ignorance and the hatred that are simmering or have been simmering underneath the surface."
While this hate is not new in America’s history, we can no longer let it continue. The rate at which crimes are increasing nationwide is beyond alarming. The AAPI community needs our support now more than ever, whether it be checking in on our family and friends, spreading awareness of COVID-19 misconceptions, or contacting members of Congress to do more against anti-Asian hate. Check out this guide on resources and ways to support the AAPI community and our Asian friends. Hate is the real virus and we must end it.