Asian-Americans: Victims of COVID-19 Attacks

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Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, racist attacks and violence against Asians have dramatically risen. In response to these attacks, a reporting center called Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate was launched on March 19, 2020 to track and respond to “incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.” Time Magazine reported that Stop AAPI Hate “received 2,808 reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March 19 and December 31, 2020.” The NYPD also reported that anti-Asian hate crimes jumped 1,900% in New York City in 2020.

Some of the more recent violent attacks in NYC include “a man [who] was stabbed and killed while standing up for a group of Asian men against robbers in Brooklyn, NY.” 46 year old Yong Zheng was heading home from a Lunar New Year dinner when he noticed some men fighting back against robbers. His wife Jin Zhao said that “He heard a robbery — he didn’t know what was going on. He saw a crime, he tried to stop it.” On March 2, 2021, a 56 year old Asian man was beaten repeatedly in another unprovoked attack outside a Lower East Side subway station in NYC. The victim fell to the ground and hit his head, allowing the unidentified man to strike him several times before fleeing into the F-line train station. 

On the West Coast, there have also been many attacks, including in California which has the highest Asian American population. On February 3, 2021, “a security camera captured a horrifying moment involving three unidentified men assaulting a 67 year old Asian man while inside a laundromat in San Francisco’s Chinatown.” The victim was sitting inside before he was attacked and robbed. On February 16, 2021, Marc Quidit, an Asian store owner, was shot four times in the legs by armed robbers who entered his store in Vallejo.

Violence directed toward Asians is also being reported in Canada, England, and Australia. On February 24, 2021 in Bonnyrigg Heights, Australia, a Thai family’s home was invaded around 1:15am. A surveillance video shows a pair of masked intruders spending 10 minutes in their yard before attacking the father and son with a machete. The daughter recalls, “They attempted to stab him through his stomach twice after making eye contact with him.” Fortunately, the family survived.

The Asian Community has been calling for help, but many feel that no one is listening. There have been numerous reports of these rash attacks, but they are mostly posted by Asian American News Sources. Many people of Asian ethnicity have also commented on social media platforms, like Instagram and Twitter, expressing how they feel invisible to the world due to the lack of acknowledgement of these attacks. The rise in violence began due to the belief that Asians started the coronavirus, since the first reported COVID-19 case was in Wuhan, China. Now all Asians, not just those of Chinese ethnicity, have been targeted and racially abused both in person and on the Internet. 

NBA player, Jeremy Lin commented on his experience with racial slurs. He said that he was called “coronavirus” on the court. He decided not to out the person claiming that it would do no good, and instead, he used his platform to speak out and raise awareness. He stated, 

“We are tired of being told to keep our heads down and not make trouble. We are tired of Asian American kids growing up and being asked where they’re REALLY from, of having our eyes mocked, of being objectified as exotic or being told we’re inherently unattractive. We are tired of the stereotypes in Hollywood affecting our psyche and limiting who we think we can be. We are tired of being invisible, of being mistaken for our colleague or told our struggles aren’t as real.”

Lin isn’t the only celebrity insulted by what some think is a playful joke.  For example, the Korean pop boy group BTS became victims of racist remarks from Matthias Matuschik, a German radio host. Matuschik compared the boy group to the coronavirus, saying that he hopes there will be a vaccine for them soon and adding that they should be vacationing in North Korea for the next 20 years. After he was called out, he apologized, but his apology rang hollow.

Despite the fact that there is a lack of concern towards Asians, many people have gathered to fight back and #StopAsianHate. In fact, there have been a few rallies in New York and California where people gathered to condemn the violence against Asians. There were also hundreds of people who volunteered to escort elderly Asian Americans in California to protect them amidst these attacks. In addition, a few neighbors decided to come together to protect an Asian family after teens started to shout racist insults and throw rocks at their home, disturbing their sleep. John C. Yang, President and Executive Director of the Civil Rights Nonprofit Asian American Advancing Justice, urges communities to come together to stop the hate and violence. “It’s about creating [a] community where people feel like they are better protected,” he said, “and that they are not alone.”