The Truth Behind AAPI Hate Crimes in America

Isabel Wade

Asian Americans have experienced racism for generations, but hate crimes against them have become more rampant with the ongoing fight against Covid-19. The FBI’s definition of a hate crime is a criminal offense motivated by religion, race, sexual orientation, and other factors. Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased in 2021 due to remarks of them bringing the Covid-19 virus to the United States.

Asian Americans have experienced racism for generations, but hate crimes against them have become more rampant with the ongoing fight against Covid-19. The FBI’s definition of a hate crime is a criminal offense motivated by religion, race, sexual orientation, and other factors. Anti-Asian hate crimes have increased in 2021 due to remarks of them bringing the Covid-19 virus to the United States.

For years, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have been made fun of for their eye shape and the food they eat, but as of late, these have become a popular trend for people to show off and talk about. Trends such as the ‘fox-eye’ and others are seen as racist and hateful, considering how long Asian Americans have dealt with crude remarks to now have that turned into something popular that everyone wants. Some people have even gotten surgery to lift back the skin near their eyelids in an attempt to create the “monolid” look.

When Covid-19 came to the United States, a lot of people, even former President Trump, were blaming China for bringing about this new pandemic to other countries. The World Health Organization, which has vowed to figure out how this pandemic originated, is still unclear as to how Covid-19 came to be, but rumors such as Chinese people eating bats surely doesn’t help. Trump’s actions of calling Covid-19 the “China Virus” or the “Kung-Flu” have only worsened people’s hatred towards Asian Americans, fueling the increase in hate crimes that we are experiencing today.

As of last year, the hate crimes against Asian people were seen highest in New York, with a total of 28 incidents reported. With increases in the number of incidents throughout 2020 and going into 2021, “Stop AAPI Hate'' was born. This is an organization dedicated to tracking all incidents of anti-Asian hate crimes and recorded over 2,800 incidents of racism and discrimination from March to December of 2020. With this, many protests have popped up all over the world in 2021 to help bring awareness to these crimes and why they must be stopped. These attacks are not just towards Chinese Americans, they are towards all types of Asian people. Another common racist stereotype is that all Asian people look alike, which is untrue considering the vast continent of Asia and all the different countries it habitats. Some East-Asian countries are China, Korea, and Japan, while some South-Asian countries are India, Pakistan, and Nepal. This being said, the majority of the hate crimes towards Asian people are recorded to be many people who aren’t even Chinese, a stark example of the racism and prejudice towards Asians to begin with when assuming that all Asian people must be Chinese.

March 16th, 2021, three different Asian spas in Atlanta, Georgia, were targeted in a mass shooting, resulting in eight dead and six of them being Asian American women. Police have not considered this to be a hate crime against Asian Americans and blamed the perpetrator for “having a bad day” as to why this occurred. Vigils, peaceful protests, GoFundMe pages, and more were brought up as the week progressed and the story unfolded. The names of the victims, which took multiple days to be announced after the shooting occurred, are Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michaels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng.

Being half South Korean, this news has deeply affected me. The fact that a lot of news stations have only just started to cover a tiny part of these crimes is shocking. The idea that the innocent lives taken in Atlanta were not racially motivated is an insult to the Asian American community. Many of the incidents are also involving Asian people over the age of sixty, grandmothers and grandfathers who have most likely sacrificed everything to make a better life for their children in America. This is how we repay them? By blaming them for a disease that our government couldn’t control and, therefore, targeting them? I fear what could happen to my grandmother if she leaves her home or what will happen to my mother if she encounters the wrong person. I fear what will happen to my friends at school if they’re hosting an Asian-specific event and a student doesn’t like it. But I shouldn't have to have these fears. No one should have to fear their friends and family getting mugged and beaten while innocent bystanders watch, an elderly lady beating a man with a cane in defense of her own life. No one asked for this pandemic, and no one maliciously brought COVID-19 to the United States so they could be in lockdown for an entire year. This generalization of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders is what is hurting so many people right now. The only way we can make progress and change is by accepting the fact that there is no one person to blame for this ongoing fight against the pandemic except for the people who were in power that didn’t do anything to stop it. Placing the blame on an entire group of people instead of trying to fix the issue at hand is what has created this hatred towards Asian Americans, and it must stop in order for us to create a more unified future together.