Anti-Asian hate on the rise during pandemic

John Ergon Golpe ’24

Due to the pandemic, Asian-Americans have become common targets for discrimination and prejudice. From verbal and physical attacks, both on the streets and online, to witnessing blatant displays of xenophobia directed towards them and/or others, this unexpected resurgence in racial discrimination has left many Asian communities in the US on edge.

According to a 2021 report published by Stop AAPI Hate, a non-profit organization dedicated to spreading awareness of Asian discrimination, Asian-Americans have made nearly 3,800 reports of anti-Asian hate crimes over the past year since the start of the pandemic. This alarming number trumps the previous year’s 2,600 reports.

A summary of these statistics states that businesses are the most common sites for Asian discrimination (35.4%), followed by public streets (25.3%). Asian-Americans of Chinese descent are the most affected demographic (42.2%), followed by Koreans (14.8%), Vietnamese (8.5%), and Filipinos (7.9%).

Here in Canada, reports of physical and verbal attacks have also made it to the news headlines. From March 10, 2020, to February 28, 2021, 1,150 reports have been recorded by researchers as a part of a study funded by the Canadian government.

These reports include Asian-Canadians experiencing verbal harassment (73%), physical assault (11%), and unhygienic contact (10%). Moreover, 44% of these reports come from British Columbia, while 40% of these reports come from Ontario.

Fortunately, the response to the recent resurgence of Asian hate holds just as much of a voice as the resurgence itself. In New York City, famous pop singer and celebrity Rihanna attended a protest against anti-Asian hate wearing a black cap, facemask, and shades while holding a pink sign that read “stop Asian hate.” This attracted online media outlets to cover the protest.

Meanwhile, other protests have been organized in 60 US cities, including San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Portland. The White House has even announced that it would deploy countermeasures to stem the resurgence, redirecting 49.5 million USD (62.3 million CAD) from its COVID relief funds towards community programs tending to victims and ordering the Department of Justice to focus on anti-Asian hate crimes.

However, Canada is still yet to respond, as Asian-Canadian community leaders in Montreal have demanded the federal government take action to curb the rise in racism, and that the government complete an overhaul of their 2019 racism strategy because it failed to identify discrimination against Asian-Canadians.

The pandemic and the horrible events that have transpired over the past few years alone have done enough harm to everyone. This recent twisted trend in racism only adds to the harm. We cannot let Asians become a scapegoat for the virus.

Photo Credit: Alexandra Wimley/AP

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