We all at UWCA were heartbroken and devastated by the March 16 mass shooting incident involving the murder of 8 people in Atlanta, 6 of whom were women of Asian descent, and shocked again on Monday to see a 65-year-old woman of Asian descent knocked down, kicked and stomped as she walked to church, in an incident caught on video. We acknowledge these attacks and other acts of hate targeted at Asian communities has created an environment forcing many to feel unsafe in their own homes and fearful for lives of their friends and family.
Sadly, violence and hate directed against Asian Americans have deep roots in in our history, from racist discrimination in the late 1800s under color of law in states like California and at the federal level under the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the unconstitutional internment and dispossession of Japanese-Americans on the West Coast during World War II, to violent attacks such as mob violence against Filipino workers in Watsonville in 1930, the tragic murder of Vincent Chin in 1982, and more. This history makes the frequency with which we saw mentions of a “China-Virus” or “Kung Flu” from elected representatives and media personalities even more triggering for our communities, and those speakers more responsible.
For much of the past year, many leaders and organizations have been raising the alarm on the rise in verbal and physical assaults against our Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) neighbors and communities. Stop AAPI Hate reported 2,800 hate incidents targeting AAPI people in 2020. An analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, this month examined hate crimes in 16 of America’s largest cities. It revealed that while such crimes in 2020 decreased overall by 7 percent, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent. Asian Americans Advancing Justice reported more than 3,000 incidents since April of last year. Journalists have documented the rise in online hatred directed at Asian Americans, in fact, coincides with the election results and the rise of anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. But beyond the overall figure, the reality that verbal and physical assaults against Asians have been disproportionately directed at women and seniors shows how violence often finds its way to the most vulnerable and it is up to us to hold our leaders and our ourselves accountable to stop these acts of hatred.
With hateful incidents at a rate of nearly 10 a day over the past year, the fear, trauma and anger is real and increasing within our AAPI communities. As all Americans should, United Way stands united in solidarity alongside our AAPI brothers and sisters, and all communities of color, including Black, Brown, and Indigenous people, as a community and a country to stand up against hate.