A few days ago, I was dismayed to find out that #StopAsianHate was trending on Twitter. Upon closer inspection, I read about a crime that took place in Atlanta. In Atlanta, a man was charged with killing eight people, four of whom are women of Asian descent. This is unfortunately not the first time that I have had news of people committing such atrocities against Asian Americans. In fact, particularly since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, these attacks against people of Asian descent have, if anything, proliferated at a rate that is certainly alarming.
However, despite the fact that people are attacking people of Asian descent, I am glad that finally awareness of these issues is becoming paramount. I am glad that the hashtag #StopAsianHate is trending. Because ultimately, #StopAsianHate could be the best thing for America.
Assigning blame for Covid-19
Since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, I have seen an alarming amount of news in the media about Asian Americans getting attacked or even killed. It doesn’t help the fact that Covid-19 has been associated as a “Chinese” virus, spread far and wide by certain influential people in politics and the media. Just because Covid-19 may first have been identified in Wuhan, China, that doesn’t make it a “Chinese” virus. No one is to blame for the pandemic. By pointing fingers, all that we are doing is doing what children do, and that is name calling. If we hadn’t been so intent on assigning blame on the virus, then perhaps we may all have been vaccinated by now. If we hadn’t pointed fingers at one particular racial or ethnic group, then we would have lost less lives across the world.
But it is human nature to point fingers. Think back to World War II when the United States government sent innocent people of Japanese descent (many of whom were American citizens) to Japanese internments camps for their “safety.” During that time, there was so much fear by the non-Japanese American population along the west coast of the United States that the government had to do something. And what they did was something that is hard to forgive. The fact that they put their own innocent citizens behinds bars in deplorable circumstances is one that I still have a hard time believing. No one wants to believe that their country, which is supposed to be a safe haven for its people, managed to turn on them. They turned on them after the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japan. They turned on them after an incident that they had no control over.
Besides the internment of Japanese Americans, there were other instances of people pointing fingers and assigning blame. In the same war, the Germans were extremely unhappy with the outcome of the Versailles Treaty. Therefore, Adolf Hitler managed to incite the Germans and create fear and blame against the Jewish people, saying that it was their fault that they lost World War I. As you most likely know, the fate of the Jewish people did not end well, as it resulted in the deaths of six million Jewish people across Europe. Those innocent people (many of whom fought in World War I) died. They died simply because of their heritage and culture. They died after being blamed for something that they had no control over.
The same thing is happening today amongst people of Asian descent. I am seeing quite a lot of Asians getting attacked and killed. Since March 2020 up until early this year, there has been nearly 4000 people of Asian descent who have been brutally assaulted. They were physically or verbally assaulted because of their race. They were assaulted for something that they are not responsible for.
The Attack in Atlanta
Early this week, a 21-year-old Caucasian man went on a rampage and killed eight people of Asian descent, most of whom were women. They are saying that he does not deny killing them, but he does deny that it was a racially motivated act. They are saying that he said that he was a sex addict and that he attacked them as a form of revenge. Subsequently, he was captured after being in a manhunt south of Atlanta, though he was heading for Florida for another location.
He said that the attacks were not motivated by race. However, it did happen during a time in which they have been quite a few attacks on Asian Americans across the country. The fact that most of the eight victims were women and Asian American makes it seem as if the shooter was targeting a specific group of people. It couldn’t have been just a random case of revenge, or the victims simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The shooter was the one who went to the two locations and attacked. The shooter was the one who chose those two locations. He could have chosen any other location in that area, but he chose that one. Clearly, he was familiar with the location and the people who were there. This couldn’t have been just a random act, but rather one that was organized.
It is George Floyd all over again
In the news articles that I’ve read, I see that the president and the vice president are meeting with the mayor and Asian American leaders in the Atlanta area. They have all emphasized how unacceptable this is. They are trying to figure out a solution. Meanwhile, many people have once again taken to the streets to protest this act of violence citing #StopAsianHate. Many of the signs that they are displaying are both impactful and meaningful. It is George Floyd all over again.
#StopAsianHate is trending… but for how long?
When the attacks in Atlanta first happened, #StopAsianHate was trending. Now (on Friday, March 19), it has been replaced with hashtags like #JustinBieber and two Kpop hashtags. Is #StopAsianHate insignificant enough that it has enough manpower to last a few days after the killings? When George Floyd happened last year, the protests lasted weeks. It angered more people. This time, more people died and it is only trending just a matter of days.
This is because the issues of Asian Americans in this country are made invisible or nearly invisible. Perhaps it’s because Asian Americans only make up about 5.6% of the total US population (or 22 million). Perhaps even though Asian Americans are known as the model minority, they are expected to set a perfect example for other minorities, while maintaining their silence. They are expected to not complain. Because of being unresisting and passive, the dominant assumption is that they are happy with their lives in America. But silence does not equal consent.
Silence does not equal consent. By being silent, we are saying that they, Asian Americans, are okay with the way that they have been treated in this country not just this year but for centuries. By being silent, we are passively endorsing the prejudice and stereotypes that Asian Americans have been subjected to.
It is not okay to be silent about these matters. We must speak up. Even if we are not Asian American, we must still speak up. We have a duty to defend against anyone who dares to hurt someone simply because of the color of their skin, race, ethnicity, religion, or nationality. We have a duty to always fight for what is right. We must not let these matters go without speaking up. We must spread it far and wide because it is the only way to create lasting and permanent change in America.
Let it trend so that…
Let #StopAsianHate trend so that it doesn’t die. Let it trend so that we can raise awareness of the kind of bigotry and prejudice that Asian Americans are subjected to. Let it trend so that we can abolish the model minority myth. Let it become as big as the #blacklivesmatter movement because they matter just as much. Asian Americans shouldn’t keep quiet anymore. So, if you read this post, then go on social media and post it. We need everyone to stand together and support. By supporting and spreading #StopAsianHate, we are taking a step toward fighting for the very thing that America is based on. We are fighting for the right to be able to live in this country without fear of prosecution just because of something that we cannot help. Don’t let history repeat itself. Let #StopAsianHate trend and raise awareness.