I refuse to be afraid to be an Asian-American.
Despite this refusal, recently with the increase of hate crimes against the Asian American pacific islander community in the United states, it’s become even more threatening to be Asian.
The outbreak of the pandemic that had begun to affect several nations globally in the March of 2020 caused an increase in widespread anti-Asian sentiment to the virus being said to originate in Wuhan, China. In response to the rise in such sentiment, there was a shift of attention to the racism directed towards the AAPI community, particularly the microaggressions and instances of assault they face..
The United States is one of the prime examples where hate has been fostered towards the AAPI community due to COVID and other racially-motivated stereotypes; in 2020,hate crimes directed towards the AAPI community had increased by an astounding 150% in 2020. And alike hate, there is an increase of fear resounding around members of the Asian American community.
As an Asian American teenage female, I have little confidence in my safety in public. I have grown up for much of my life without being represented in commercial television, prominent U.S represented figures, and more. I grew up wishing things were easier, and like many minority children suffocated by Eurocentric cultural standards, I would wish for more screen time and awareness surrounding my community and culture.
Yet, this long-sought-after awareness has manifested in videos of individuals who look like me and my loved ones get pushed onto hard cement and beaten on the street. I’m forced to stare at a screen and watch as those who look like the figures in my family I’ve come to view as wise heroines are dragged and assaulted in broad daylight. Heckled and harassed as if being Asian and breathing were a crime. Even worse, I watch individuals step past these attacked heroines in broad daylight, leaving them to bleed out. Passerbys turn their backs as if the harassment of Asian women, men, and elderly only brings themselves up as a minor inconvenience in their personal lives that they wish not to be bothered by.
With this, we are then silenced-- both by force and in the eyes of those we would consider neighbors on a busy street.
Those in the AAPI community stand and watch as those abusers are then sent off with a mere slap on the wrist andr the hate crimes are downplayed as not targeting the Asian American.
We watch as the shooter of eight victims in Atlanta, six being Asian, is being allowed to justify his attack on mostly Asian women by claiming it was due to a‘sex addiction’ he associated with these salons and parlors.
We listen as the media takes what he says over the concerns of the AAPI community.
We stand there as new articles of unprovoked assaults against victims such as Yao Pan Ma must wait for justice while their families lay by their hospital beds watching them in a coma.
We Fear for our loved ones and ourselves, carrying pepper spray and having curfews to prevent a lack of injustice that would occur if we were attacked for merely existing.
Yet, with the rise of hate crimes, there has been a rise of solidarity within the community. Although a lack of proper official media coverage has been given using the representation of Asian American prominent figures, social media has been drawing their attention to the hate crimes directed towards the aapi community. With finally enough coverage on the racism the Asian American community faces, more allies have stood alongside their Asian American neighbors, and more AAPI individuals feel empowered to speak up more about the microaggressions they have faced, which have been downplayed in the United States for far too long.
The AAPI community has become more resilient-- even when they shouldn’t have had to. Steps are being taken to take the fear resonating around our community to bring fuel to a fight for racial representation and justice, one that should have been paid more attention to a while ago.
So, while the fight for racial justice has been overdue for Asian Americans, it’s only just beginning.
And because of this, I and many others find pride in being a part of the AAPI community, using their voices and digital platforms to fight back against AAPI hate crimes.