Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Hate and Violence: Why Awareness and Action Are Now More Important Than Ever

Written by Sophia Bianchi ‘22, Ace Chou ‘22, and Morgan Pedus ‘22/Edited by Maya Joncas ‘22

     If you have been following the news or social media lately, you may have seen the recent shooting in Atlanta, Georgia. A white male killed eight people, committing violent shootings in three different spas. Six out of the eight people murdered were Asian women. When this man was taken in for questioning, he told police officers he had a sexual addiction and needed to get rid of his temptations by carrying out a shooting at these spas. Asked about the events that took place, Georgia’s sheriff said, "And he was pretty much fed up and had been, kind of, at the end of his rope. And yesterday was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did." This behaviour and response are unacceptable. The man who committed this hate crime was motivated to do this because of his fetishizing of Asian women, proven from what he said as his reasoning to murder people. It is also obvious that he was targeting people in the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community because he had gone to three different Asian-owned spas. The sheriff of Georgia that spoke about this hate crime reacted poorly by saying the man that committed these murders was having a bad day. By saying this, it showed people in the AAPI community that officials, who are intended to protect and help them, are not on their side. When being targets for racism, hate crimes, and not being supported by law enforcement, how are AAPI supposed to feel safe? 

Although there has been a rise in recognition and awareness of racism towards the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in the US, it is very important to recognize that AAPI hate and violence has been around for centuries in America. For example, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese Americans were persecuted and targeted with hate and racism. The American government made internment camps for Japanese Americans, assuming that they were all terrorists despite being citizens of the United States. People have been suffering for a very long time and as a Mercy school, we have a calling to address these issues. One of the critical concerns of the Sisters of Mercy is antiracism. As a community, we must discuss the rise in AAPI hate and discourage its continuation. It is unacceptable that people are in constant fear for their lives because of how they look and where they come from. Part of working towards ending racism towards AAPI is addressing the history of racism towards AAPI, the role of the government today, and the suffering of AAPI today. 

Currently, the coronavirus has taken over our entire world, like wildfire. As many of us know, this virus began in China and spread to the whole world. Since it came from China, many people have been calling it the “Chinese Flu” or the “Kung Flu.” When calling the coronavirus these names, it is an act of racism and hate towards people in the AAPI community. On top of calling the virus these names, there has been a rise in hate crimes towards people in the AAPI community since the pandemic has started. Often, they can’t even leave their house without witnessing and/or experiencing hate and racism towards themselves and others in the AAPI community. Many people think that anyone who is a part of the AAPI community has the virus, and will avoid people of Asian descent. There have even been reports of people refusing medical treatments from doctors that are a part of the AAPI community. Along with the avoidance, people are also committing violent crimes against people in the AAPI community. 

As seen throughout history, society likes to have a scapegoat for whenever something bad happens in the world. For example, in Germany, Hitler blamed Jewish people for all of the hardships and economic problems that Germany faced after World War I. People of the AAPI community have been the scapegoat for the coronavirus. Much of this hate comes from the media and what different political leaders say about the coronavirus, such as when President Trump called the coronavirus the “Chinese virus.” People cannot feel safe if society and government officials are saying that they are the problem and blaming them for something they had nothing to do with. 

           Working towards ending racism against the AAPI community within our own towns, schools, communities and country is incredibly important, but we must not forget the major role the government could play in the fight to end racism. Many politicians use their platforms to only spread hate and incite violence, but many other politicians are calling for reform and legislation to support the AAPI community. Although condemning AAPI hate and violence is incredibly important, actions speak louder than words. More people will continue to suffer until everyone, including our government, makes a legitimate effort to combat racism. The congressional hearing on March 18, 2021 was the first hearing on violence against Asians in 34 years. It is ridiculous that it takes horrifying tragedies for the government to notice the suffering of the AAPI community. The Biden administration issued a memorandum in late January which condemned hate and violence against the AAPI community and also stated measures that executive departments would be taking to support Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Many organizations, including Stop AAPI Hate, supported this memorandum, but also called on the Biden administration to do more, including the ratification of the No Hate Act. The government bears a responsibility, as do all of us benefitting from systems oppressing people of color, to take whatever measures they can to combat racism. It is unacceptable to issue a statement condemning bigotry, but then issue nothing else to solve the problem, which is why we call on our government to take immediate action to work towards ending AAPI hate and violence. 

We all share a responsibility to be better humans. We need to care about one another and address our own personal brokenness that causes us to do and say horrible things. For too long, the AAPI community has been treated without respect and compassion. In order to be true Mercy leaders, we need to love more and fight for the respect of all. We have a calling and it is time to answer it.

In addition to the article, The Blue and Gold thought it was imperative to include some words from a member of the AAPI community at Bay View. Here is an excerpt from Ace Chou (‘22) on her personal thoughts and experience: 

Hey, for people who don’t know me, my name is Ace or Emma, I’m a junior and I’m also very lucky to be a very Asian human. Although I was born in Taiwan, I came to this country as a baby and grew up here. I am a naturalized US citizen and also a Taiwan citizen. Despite the fact I grew up here, I go back to Taiwan every year if possible as my entire family is from there, so I definitely consider myself an Asian American. I’m thankful that neither I nor my family have ever been targeted because of our ethnicity, but there’s no way on earth I could be silent about the recent violence going on against people of Asian and Pacific Island descent. The violence against people like us and the reasons behind these recent attacks are so convoluted that I can’t even wrap my head around it. The US is supposed to be a melting pot of different cultures, races, and religions, and yet the fact that white people have always been “superior” is still evident since the day this country was established. The fact that former President Donald Trump, a person who was supposed to be the president of all people, is consistently perpetuating false pretexts about how Asian people brought the coronavirus to the US is a prime example. This gives people an excuse to attack people who look like they’re Asian, even if they, like me, have lived in this country their entire lives and were nowhere near the place where this virus started. It also definitely does not help our current predicament when the former president is standing in front of thousands of people and knowing millions more are watching and listening behind screens and calling COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu.” But since when would people listen to logic when there is an easy scapegoat? It still blows my mind how fast people were pointing fingers as to the cause of the virus no matter how much truth was behind it. I’m proud to be Asian and I’m also proud to be American (most of the time), but I do believe that we need to stop perpetuating baseless claims and generalizing all Asian and Pacific Islanders into one big category. Not every AAPI is Chinese. Asia is not just China, Japan, and Korea. It is more than the Far East. Asia is the largest continent on Earth filled with many beautiful and diverse cultures. So please, if you are going to go around spreading hate, don’t. Just because someone doesn’t look like you doesn’t mean we are any less human.