Photo Credit: Oliver Douliery / AFP
Violence and racism against Asians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) are not a new phenomenon. It has been part of American history for a long time and impacting Asian/American and Pacific Islander communities in many ways. As the coronavirus pandemic continues, more harassment, discrimination, and violence are directed at AAPI communities. Recently, many AAPIs feel unsafe when they are performing their day-to-day tasks as they fear the dangerous and harmful people in public areas. Since last year, anti-Asian violence has been increasing and has not stopped. In the past weeks, several incidents, including the Atlanta spa shooting and the case where an Asian elder woman was attacked in San Francisco, show the vulnerable side of the Asian communities. This short article aims to raise awareness of the problem and share the resources for anyone who needs them.
What is an Asian hate incident?
The anti-Asian hate incident is a concept that includes different degrees of acts such as hate crime, violence, harassment and prejudice. According to the definition of the Department of Justice (DoJ), hate crime is a crime motivated by bias against a race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, or disability. Anti-Asian hate violence is physical violence towards Asians, Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, including physical attacks, threats, or property damage. Other types of incidents may include denial of service at commercial establishments, verbal abuse of AAPI workers, and xenophobic messages communicated by government leaders.
Is it a serious issue?
Yes, this issue is getting serious across the country. Anti-Asian hate incidents in the US have risen dramatically since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. According to data compiled by California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism and the Voice of America, the overall hate crime reported there were 122 incidents of anti-Asian American hate crimes in 16 countries populous cities in 2020, an increase of 149% over the previous year. Researchers looked at preliminary police data in 16 major U.S. cities, 11 of which are some of the largest in the country.
Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition that tracks incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the US reported 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian violence in 2020. By late April this year, the Stop AAPI Hate said it had received almost 1,500 reports of incidents of racism, hate speech, discrimination, and physical attacks against Asians and Asian-Americans. These incidents include physical attacks and shunning on individuals, especially on women. A professor of Asian-American Studies at San Francisco University points out that both racism and sexism are quite subservient. Moreover, Asians, especially Asian women, are easy targets for such people. Particularly, many are worried that vulnerable Asian elderly are getting physically threatened and hurt in public space.
The dark figure of Asian hate incidents
The dark figure is a term to describe an unreported or undiscovered crime. Although the Anti-Asian violence cases have been extensively reported by the media, anti-Asian violence and harassment are still vastly underreported. The actual number of cases is higher, as many Asians are not reporting them due to fear, disbelief, and modesty. Besides, there’s no national uniform database for collecting anti-Asian attacks. Most of the data we have is based on self-reporting, which cannot precisely reflect the actual situation. In a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center, 40% of US adults believe “it has become more common for people to express racist views toward Asians since the pandemic began.” Nevertheless, those harassing comments could not be easily reported.
What can we do about it?
Report Anti-Asian Hate Incidents
Anti-Asian Hate Incidents sadly become part of our daily living. Many daily acts of microaggressions do not make the news. However, some actions can be taken, that is, to report a hate crime if we experienced it or we saw other people experienced it. It is critical to reporting hate crimes not only to show support and get help for victims but also to send a clear message that the community will not tolerate these kinds of crimes. There are at least three advantages to report a hate crime:
- Reporting to law enforcement can assist in identifying and prosecuting criminals who commit hate crimes.
- Reporting the crime can help bring civil claims against those responsible for the anti-Asian harassment and violence.
- Reporting to non-governmental organizations helps them collect information to understand the scope of the problem and address the problem and effect policy changes.
Our everyday habits were actually compromising our safety. The victims aren’t to blame for tragic assaults and violence but nevertheless want to make sure we’re doing everything in our power to stay safe. Here are some tips that we can use to protect ourselves:
- Always be aware. Be aware of your surroundings. While going through your day-to-day duties, keep awareness top of mind.
- Do not walk alone, especially at night. If walking by yourself, get off your cell phone.Keep your phone out of sight and refrain from listening to music, as you won’t be able to hear someone approaching you from behind.
- Set up an emergency button on your phone: Many phones now have a button on the screen to dial 911 immediately—preset one of the buttons on your phone to call the emergency number.
- Make eye contact with other pedestrians. By doing this, you send a strong defensive signal that you see them and could identify them if necessary.
- Limit distractions in parking lots. Tuck your phone safely in your purse so you can keep your head up to look around and pay attention to your surroundings. If it’s late and you feel uneasy or parked far from the entrance, ask a security guard to escort you to your car.
- Always check your car. Look underneath your car before approaching it in a parking garage or lot at night. Always remember to lock your doors when driving.
- Never pull over when someone points at your car, claiming that something is wrong. Suspects use this tactic to get you to open your window or get out of the car.
- File A Report To Law Enforcement Agencies:
- To report a hate crime that is in progress or for any emergency, you must contact your local law enforcement agencies and file a police report via in-person or telephone or call 911.
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – Civil Rights/Hate Crimes: fbi.gov/contact-us
- File A Report To Organizations Dedicated To Assisting Victims:
- OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates Hate Incident Reporting: aapihatecrimes.org
- Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center: stopaapihate.org
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice’s Stand Against Hatred: standagainsthatred.org
- ADL Hate Tracker:adl.org/reportincident
- National Center for Victims of Crime provides resources to victims of crime: victimsofcrime.org