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Opinion: Fight as one to stop AAPI hate

A rally against anti-Asian hate crimes at Los Angeles State Historic Park on Feb. 20. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

In roughly a year of the coronavirus, nearly 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents were recorded and released by the reporting forum Stop AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Hate. Women were in the majority when it came to incidents at 68% while men covered 29% of incidents, according to the report.

The ongoing discrimination/violence against the Asian community in the US is not something new and is something that has been around for decades. Dating back to the 20th century, acts and laws were even passed that excluded immigrants from the region of China. As time progressed, the acceptance for those of Asian descent somehow regressed.

On March 16, the lives of six women who were of Asian descent were taken by a man known as Robert Aaron Long. He had previously sought treatment for a sex addiction and felt motivated to take out, in his words, his “temptation,” according to the New York Times.

Many have taken to social media to make it known that they stand in solidarity with the Asian Community and want to help minimize the cases of discrimination, yet cases continue increasing.

Looking at the statistics can lead us to believe that only voicing our support for the AAPI community may not be enough and that instead, we must take action. There has been a long prior history of violence against the AAPI, yet recently, that violence has only increased.

You should utilize social media, which already has a large following, in order to spread awareness. Although it has not been utilized to its full potential, even a simple post on your account would result in a larger audience being reached. 

Although there has been an overwhelming increase in violence against the AAPI, it is something that is not new.

Yuning Wu, an associate professor who writes for Britannica, discusses old policies that were implemented in the US discriminating against the AAPI, specifically the Chinese Exclusion Act signed in 1882.

The act aimed to place a stop to the influx of Chinese immigrants making their way to the US, stating the act represented the outcome of years of racial hostility and “anti-immigrant agitation.” It also started a new era where the United States went from a country that welcomed almost all immigrants to a gatekeeping one.

The creation of the act in itself indicates that Asians have been discriminated against for a long time and by not only the civilians but also the government.

In addition, the author goes on to discuss what sort of effect the act had on the Chinese since Chinese immigrants fell under government scrutiny and often denied entry into the country. 

The oppression faced by the AAPI described in the article is still seen in the modern world and is one of many incidents that have occurred across the globe. Their opinions, voices and presence have been getting ignored for a longer period of time than we think, causing the numbers of today’s discrimination against the AAPI community to skyrocket, which is why it is so important people recognize this issue and take action. In order to put it into perspective, the data must be given a glimpse to truly feel the disheartenment of what our society has transformed into today. 

Ever since the start of the coronavirus, which initially started in the early months of 2020, there has been a very significant increase in incidents of discrimination against Asian Americans. Hate crimes against Asian-Americans rose by 149% in 2020 in 16 major cities compared with 2019, according to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.

Although the numbers simply speak for themselves, they are unacceptable and the people should be held accountable. In addition to discussing the data, Reuters also decided to take a look at the possible exact pinpoint/root cause of the incidents, where a rise in xenophobia has also taken place because of what’s believed to be the pandemic itself. They found that President Trump’s reference of the coronavirus as the “China Virus,” led to a spike in hate crimes since March 2020.

Former President Donald Trump’s racially degrading remarks influenced people to spread even more hate against Asians and could be the sole reason for the spike in incidents of discrimination against the AAPI. Furthermore, we should not be having a president that spreads this type of message to an entire country that is easily influenced by his words.

At the end of the day, we must realize the word of the people matters and plays a major role, particularly in social media, which is one place we may have not been taking full advantage of during times like today where social justice is needed. 

Nowadays, social media plays a major role in everybody’s life, acting as a source of information, entertainment, etc. However, there has been a lack of usage of social media when it comes to social justice.

According to Teach for America, the effects of media when it comes to the AAPI community and coverage of the coronavirus fell into unwarranted xenophobia, stigma, and discrimination disproportionately impacting AAPI communities, because of President Trump’s “Kung Flu” and “Chinese Virus” statements. 

Directly addressing the media message turning out to be more of a negative one rather than a positive one should serve as a wake-up call for those who have yet to spread awareness regarding the discrimination the AAPI community faces.

Teach for America also addresses how more action is needed rather than just a simple social media post. They argue more needs to be done outside of allies and co-conspirators saying “we see you” and “we hear you.” The words have to come with legitimate accountability and solidarity.  

Social media should be used much more, especially in this generation, to spread awareness when it comes to situations like these and its effect should be overwhelmingly more on the positive side rather than the negative type of effect it is currently having today. In contrast, many might argue against the discrimination towards the AAPI community.

During discussions over the discrimination against the AAPI community, one might argue that bigger issues are going on compared to the hate against Asians.

The American Psychological Association takes a look at the term model minority, which considers Asian Americans to be a high-achieving minority that assumes they assimilated into the society of America easily. APA explains that the term downplays the role of racism in the inequities of American society, as well as creating a divide among racial minorities. 

The usage of the term has created a bridge of hate between other races and Asians because of their supposed simple assimilation. Although there has been a major downplay of the racism that divides American society, it is something that needs to be taken into account because it is simply too big of an issue to just ignore it.

The long ongoing amount of hatred and discrimination the AAPI community that still exists today has been endured in the silent darkness for way too long and cannot be downplayed, which is why we must begin to shed light on it.

The Seattle Times responded to those downplaying discrimination on people’s acceptance of discrimination against certain races. Columnist Paul Youngbin Kim argued we tend to dismiss the impact of racism toward Asians and Asian Americans and when we learn from it, we usually are at a loss for how to accurately respond.

We also tend to be “we tend to be more varied in our acceptance of the validity of the racialized experiences of our Asian and Asian American neighbors,” Kim wrote.

The loss of words just shows how people have adapted to deciding to ignore the real issues of this world, so much so that it is becoming normalized in today’s society. Although these ideas may be true, there is still much progress to be made, progress that can only be made by all of us.

There has been a long earlier history of violence against the AAPI, yet as of late, that violence has just expanded and skyrocketed. You should use social media, which as of now has an enormous following, to spread information. In spite of the fact that it has not been used to its maximum capacity, even a basic post would bring about a bigger audience that’s being reached.

Creating a society that does not have civilians who are worried about fighting against and hating each other allows us to progress as one, which is why people must ultimately begin spreading awareness and attempting to end discrimination for all as one. 

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