[Editor’s note: This Validated Independent News Story was researched and submitted before the March 16, 2021 shootings in Atlanta in which six of those killed—Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Soon Chung Park, Xiaojie Tan, Delaina Ashley Yaun, and Yong Ae Yue—were women of Asian descent.]
From verbal harassment and physical assault to discrimination and intimidation, the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in the New York area faced an astounding 1900% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the year 2020 according to New York Police Department data, Brittany Wong reported for Huffington Post. Those who used to be considered the “model minority” are now being targeted across the country as dirty, disease-spreading conspirators. The upsurge of violence against the AAPI community has been heavily influenced by the hateful xenophobic rhetoric of Donald Trump and his political allies, who describe the COVID-19 coronavirus as the “Chinese virus,” “kung flu,” “plague from China,” and other names that falsely vilify Asian-Americans.
A study by the nonprofit organization Stop AAPI Hate found that Republican politicians have collectively tweeted 136 times between January and August 2020 using specific language to condemn the nation of China and Asian people. These tweets have garnered more than 1.3 million retweets and 4.4 million likes. The biggest perpetrator of the Twitter rage against China and Asian Americans is former president Donald Trump, whose tweets (24 of 136) accounted for 92 percent of the total retweets and 95 percent of the total likes observed in the Stop AAPI Hate study.
Los Angeles County reported 245 hate incidents against Asian Americans relating to COVID-19. A majority of those incidents involved verbal harassment, many also including discrimination or physical assault. Attacks included, but are not limited to, being spit on, having objects thrown violently, workplace microaggressions, and online abuse. Chinese Americans were the leading targeted group, comprising 35 percent of the reported hate incidents in Los Angeles County. Korean Americans and Japanese Americans experienced the second and third highest number of attacks, followed by other Asian ethnicity groups.
The AAPI community have been subject to attacks due to the fear fomented by Trump. “When President Trump began and insisted on using the term ‘China virus,’ we saw that hate speech really led to hate violence,” Russell Jeung, chair of the Asian American studies department at San Francisco State University stated in an article published by USA Today. Jeung said negative political rhetoric added an overwhelming amount of anxiety to Asian Americans and induced more fear in an already panicking country.
In Oakland, California’s Chinatown, a masked man with hood up shoved a 91-year-old man to the ground in broad daylight. Video footage of this assault was released by the Chinatown Chamber of Commerce and gained traction after Asian actors Daniel Wu and Daniel Dae Kim tweeted about the video. ABC News reported the same man who assaulted the 91-year-old committed similar offenses that same day to a 60-year-old man and a 55-year-old woman. This particular racial bias incident took place on January 31, 2021 and is only a sliver of all anti-Asian hate crimes committed since the beginning of the pandemic.
Despite the ongoing discrimination and physical and verbal hate that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders endure, major corporate news outlets have failed to properly report on this blatant form of racism and when they do, they all tend to cite the exact same incident (the Oakland incident mentioned above). Independent outlets such as HuffPost, The Guardian and Teen Vogue have covered this issue in more detail and have cited the important research done by Stop AAPI Hate. A KQED podcast reveals Stop AAPI Hate was launched as a self-reporting center in response to an incident in San Francisco involving bikers chanting “coronavirus!” at a Chinese restaurant. Stop AAPI Hate has served as the information and statistics hub for all news outlets because it is the only group that has continuously conducted research on the epidemic of anti-Asian prejudice in the US.
Brittany Wong, “Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Are On The Rise. Here’s How You Can Help,” HuffPost, February 19, 2021, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/anti-asian-hate-crimes-covid-19-help_n_60256eebc5b680717ee65142.
“The Return of Yellow Peril,” Stop AAPI Hate online, October 21, 2020, https://a1w.90d.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/Stop_AAPI_Hate_2020-Candidates-and-Anti-Asian-Rhetoric_201021.pdf.
“Los Angeles County Report,” Stop AAPI Hate online, October 28, 2020, https://a1w.90d.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/Los-Angeles-3.20-11.30-SAH-report-FINAL.pdf.
Ericka Cruz Guevarra, Marisol Madina-Cadena, and Alan Montecillo, Tracking the Latest Chapter of Anti-Asian Racism in America,” KQED online, March 27, 2020, https://www.kqed.org/news/11808957/tracking-the-latest-chapter-of-anti-asian-racism-in-america.
Student Researcher: Lauren Kainrath (North Central College)
Faculty Evaluator: Steve Macek (North Central College)