Imagine being a loved one of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, and receiving the news that he died, just two days after a fatal assault. He was an Asian American who was shoved to the ground while taking his morning walk and was harassed for no reason other than his race.
How about placing yourself in the shoes of Noel Quintana, a 61-year-old Filipino American. He was slashed in the face with a box cutter by a stranger on the New York subway, barely making it out alive. The reason behind the crime? Quintana’s perceived Asian race. This is the reality of today.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have been rising in number and severity, according to the AAPI, and we need to help put a stop to them. Today, I will inform you about the problem and provide ways we can work together to help fix it.
Oscar Wilde once said: “the smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention,” sharing even the smallest bits of information, no matter your platform, could potentially save a life — and this applies especially to this case.
The coronavirus has divided Americans and impacted groups in ways other than health and education. Asian Americans are being blamed for starting the pandemic and are a targeted race for hate crimes, especially in places such as New York and Los Angeles, where these incidents are up 145%, according to a report released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
The number of crimes being reported to AAPI in 2020 amounted to 3,795 incidents, which doesn’t even include the number of unreported ones. These hate crimes compose of both physical and verbal abuse and are fueled mainly by a new surge of misinformation — racial terms used to describe the coronavirus, such as “Kung Flu” and “the China Virus” contribute greatly to this.
Blaming Asian Americans for the virus is a result of rising economic, social and political tensions, according to the Asian American Bar Association of New York, but regardless of the cause, the dire effects are ones that cannot be justified by any means. Coupled with the pandemic itself, Asian Americans’ mental health is also affected by these hate crimes — including an increase in anxiety and sleeplessness.
The possibility of being in life-threatening danger and not having anyone help greatly contributes to this. Take the example of a 65-year-old Asian lady who was brutally assaulted before an apartment complex, only to have the witnesses close the building door on her face.
Not only individuals, but Asian American-owned businesses are at risk of harm. They are already struggling because of the pandemic, but have to work even harder to prioritize their own safety against racially motivated crimes such as vandalism, robbing and physical attacks on the staff.
So what can we do to help?
There are three main parts of the solution: awareness, prevention and cure. Now that you know the severity of the problem, share it on your social media or even by simple word of mouth. Sign petitions, report incidents and donate to nonprofits made for this cause.
If you’re ever a bystander in a hate crime situation then follow the 5 D’s: distract (deescalate the situation), delegate (get help from someone else), document (take a video/pictures), delay (see the victim immediately after) and direct (call authorities). If we can at least slow down the quickly growing wildfire of misinformation, it will prove beneficial to so many lives and prevent future crimes from occurring.
Right now, we need to help provide a safe environment for Asian Americans so that the government can provide justice to victims. A COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act is soon to be passed, but without public support, it will have little to no effect: cases will continue to rise and injustice will continue to be upheld.
There are lots of ways you can support the Asian community. Especially at this time, our determination and help are needed now more than ever. Social media and the internet are powerful platforms to share any information that can help. Asians are calling out for our support and we can give it to them, you never know how much impact even a simple reshare can have.
The cases I described recount stories of not even a fraction of the number of Asian Americans that have been harmed in this racially biased way. Even if you’re not Asian, imagine how you’d feel if a loved one was harmed for nothing other than their perceived race. A quote from late Asian American activist Maxine Hong Kingston is relevant today: “In a time of destruction, create something.” So let’s help create a safe and informed environment, together.