#StopAsianHate started popping up in my social media feed a couple months ago. I’ll be honest, I don’t think I would have heard of it if I hadn’t made a shift to include more diverse voices in my feed. Over the past year, I made an intentional choice to diversify my social media. I wanted to include voices from other ethnicities and backgrounds so I could learn from them. Seriously, it has to be one of the easiest (and most effective) ways I’ve found to listen, learn & grow my empathy. Learning from one another’s experiences is critical.
As I read posts & stories with #StopAsianHate, my heart broke for the discrimination and hate Asian communities have experienced. I wanted to learn more, so I dove in. I read various accounts, researched history and listened to podcasts. The following, is just skimming the surface of what I uncovered.
Asian Hate Isn’t New.
Although the hashtag is new, Asians enduring discrimination & hate in the United States isn’t. In 1882, the US passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. It denied immigration to Chinese individuals. They were blamed for high unemployment and low job availability. In short, too many Chinese were taking “American” jobs. Sound familiar? Remember, this was 1882.
Fast forward to 1942. The United States was involved in WWII. President Franklin Roosevelt signed an executive order. It required Japanese-Americans to be rounded up and sent to internment camps. This was not for their safety. Just the opposite. According to the encyclopedia Britannica, these camps were to “take all people of Japanese descent into custody, surround them with troops, prevent them from buying land and return them to their former homes at the close of the war.” Japan was the enemy…and so were her descendants. Of the 110,000 – 120,000 sent to the camps, two-thirds were native-born, American citizens! Where were these camps? The largest, Manzanar, was in California. Additional camps were located in Oregon, Utah, Idaho, Colorado & Wyoming. Camps remained in operation until 1946. At that time, the government allowed Japanese-Americans to begin rebuilding their lives.
September 11, 2001 – America was under attack. Soon, Asians were too. Anyone with dark skin and Muslim beliefs, especially those of Middle Eastern descent, were the new enemy. We don’t normally think of them as Asian, but they are (check out the list below). Almost 20 years later, West Asians are still treated as terrorists.
With COVID, came another wave of hate. It oozed from both speech & action. American leaders blamed China for the pandemic. Therefore, Chinese-Americans and anyone who looked Asian were blamed too. Language creates culture. By using phrases like, “China virus” and “kung-flu”, America quickly identified Asians as much the enemy as the virus. Fear spread. Anti-Asian hate increased. Inevitably, violence began. In a 2020 NY Times article, NYPD said Asian-American hate crimes were up 1900% in their area. The elderly Asian community has been the most vulnerable. Some of the most violent attacks are:
- Noel Quintana – 61 yr old Filipino man slashed across the face with a box-cutter (Brooklyn, NY)
- Vichar Ratanapakdee – 84 yr old Thai man shoved to the ground, dying from a brain hemorrhage (San Francisco, CA)
- Bawi Cung & his 2 sons – Father & 6 yr / 3yr old sons were all stabbed in a Sam’s Club (Midland, TX)
- Soon Chung Park, 74 years old; Hyun Jung Grant, 51; Suncha Kim, 69; and Yong Ae Yue, 63 – victims in the Atlanta spa shooting (Atlanta, GA)
- Pak Ho – 75 yr old Korean man died from injuries obtained during an assault (Oakland, CA)
What is AAPI?
While learning about Asian hate, I kept seeing AAPI. It’s the acronym for Asian American Pacific Islander. According to the Asian Pacific Institute, the term includes anyone of Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander ancestry. I found this chart from HighlyHuman Instagram account helpful. It’s important to note that many West Asians refer to themselves as Middle Eastern due to their connection with The Arab League. Also, some Central Asians may not identify as Asian due to their proximity to Europe.
Why Haven’t We Heard of This Before Now?
So if things have been this bad for over a hundred years, why are we just now hearing about it? Well, this could be a post in itself. In fact, Diane Chow did just that. In her article, she explains that many Asians are taught to keep their heads down, stay quiet, work hard, back down to problems and avoid conflict.
Vivian Mabuni beautifully expresses similar remarks in a video posted to her Instagram account. (Seriously, her heart is so vulnerable. You NEED to click the link to watch it.) She explains that while “Western culture values strength being like a big oak tree that stands firm through the storm, Asian culture teaches the virtue is to be like bamboo where you can bend and bend and bend without breaking. So that often keeps my community from speaking up.”
Obviously, just because we haven’t heard about it in main stream media until recently, doesn’t mean it hasn’t been happening. And just because we don’t hear about it as often now, doesn’t mean it’s stopped.
What We Want You To Know…
Hear from the Asian community in their own words:
JS Park – “Asian-Americans have never been silent. The mainstream perceptions of “model minority” and “passive hard-working Asians” have painted the AAPI community with a broad brush of monolithic conformity. But from leaders such as Yuri Kochiyama to Larry Itliong to pioneers like Susan Ahn Cuddy to Patsy Mink, Asian-Americans have been deeply involved, engaged, and outspoken. They worked twice as hard to get half as far. Violence against AAPI, both physical and social, has not been new. But neither has our voices speaking up for our rights and dignity. #StopAsianHate is another incredible movement in a long stream of advocacy that has gone before us and continues to build momentum.”
Roy Mong – “We were seen as “perpetual foreigners” from the moment we arrived.
We’ve been mythicized as the “model minority” and made to be a wedge against other BIPOC communities. But our pain is not the only thing there is to who we are. Life in the margins has given the AAPI community eyes to intimately know the nearness of the living God.
If you’re an ally, know that we’re not looking to rent space in the broken systems that have tried to keep us out. We’re looking to move forward towards wholeness for everyone.
Maybe the margins aren’t a void we need to be rescued from. Maybe the margins are simply a new frontier where we’re leading towards a better way. You are welcome with us on our journey!”
Isabel Tom – “Honestly, as someone who’s American born, it’s something I’m still processing. Each of us has such a different experience. So for ABCs (American Born Chinese) there have been many times where we don’t feel Asian because we’re told we’re not Asian enough. Language fluency has a lot to do with it (or lack there of). It’s a complex subject!”
Vivian Mabuni – “My eyes are swollen from crying. My fingers are landing heavy on my computer keyboard in equal parts anger and deep sadness. My community is reeling from another violent crime committed against us. Wave after wave. 3,800 anti-Asian incidents of hate reported during this pandemic. My friends and their children have been yelled at and called names. I fear for my elderly parents. For my daughter. For myself.
I want you to know. Learn Asian American history.
I want you to see. Stop erasing. Stop seeing us as the perpetual foreigner.
I want you to care. Don’t write off these murders as a stand-alone act committed by a sex addict.(referring to the Atlanta spa murders) Every act of terrorism at the hands of white men is portrayed in media as an individual act by a troubled victim.
I want you to step in. Commit to speaking up anytime you witness anti-Asian sentiments—in your family, among your friends, and out in public.
I want you to address violence against the AAPI community. Teach, train, equip and disciple believers to honor all of God’s image bearers.
I want you to state from the pulpit, on social media, in no uncertain terms, that you stand with us.
I want you to know we are hurting and tired.”
*This quote is used with Mabuni’s permission from a Christianity Today article she was quoted in March 2021.
How Can I Help?
- Educate yourself – PBS has a great documentary you can watch. Do your own research, read and increase your knowledge.
- Follow Asian Voices – Above are several incredible Asian voices to add to your social media feeds. You will learn so much from them & the voices they share.
- Listen – Listen with the intent to hear their experiences. Don’t reason them away or dismiss their experiences. Listen to them to deepen your understanding and lament with them.
- Speak Up – It’s not enough to only educated yourself. If you truly desire to help & give support to the Asian community, use your voice. Join them in crying out for justice & change. Don’t simply see them. Stand with them. Speak up for them!
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