In these past weeks, hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased a lot in the US and not all of them have been legally recognized as ‘hate crimes’ because, according to the law, the perpetrators need to mention that they are committing the crime in the name of hatred towards that community. But this hasn’t always happened for example in the recent attacks, not all the culprits have shouted or said anything against the victim because of their ethnic group thus the prosecutors announced that they do not have enough evidence to classify them as crimes with a racist motive. This ignited a series of protests demanding to prosecute these cases as hate crimes.
Racial violence against Asian Americans has always been slowly rising in the past years since 2016 but between 2019 and 2020 anti-Asian hate crimes reported to the police rose by 129%. Hate crimes jumped 1,900% in New York City in 2020. Between March 19 and December 31 2020 the Stop AAPI Hate (a reporting database created as a response to the increase of violence towards Asian communities) got 2,808 reports of anti-Asian discrimination. These numbers are crazy and criminologists are still trying to understand the motive behind such an amount of violence.
Many people think that the growth of violence should be attributed to the way former president Trump referred to Covid-19 as “the China virus” showing his belief that the country should be blamed and considered responsible for the pandemic. However, Trump used the virus to justify and defend the xenophobic acts against Asian Americans. Of course, Trump’s words had a devastating effect on the already ongoing hate acts against them.
“It gives people license to attack us. The current spate of attacks on our elderly is part of how that rhetoric has impacted the broader population,” said Russell Jeung, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate.
As I stated before, racial violence against Asian Americans has been a problematic topic even before Covid-19 and according to studies the cause could be identified with the “model minority” myth: a stereotype assuming that the Asian Americans community has the class privilege and that they do not face any struggle or racial discrimination.
“There are these assumptions about ways that Asian Americans have ‘succeeded’ in this country,” says Bianca Mabute-Louie, racial justice educator.
In contrast with the model minority stereotype, this is America’s most economically divided community, it has the largest income gap as a group and has both very poor and relatively successful subgroups, despite this some just see them as a wealthy ethnic group.
Many Asians run a small business in economically depressed neighbourhoods and this provokes the residents who, when the economic situation gets worse, blame Asians for owning ‘successful’ businesses, in other words, the stress due to the economic situation experienced in 2020 has led to these type of hate crimes.
I took Asian Americans as an example because of the terrible things that this community has been experiencing lately but it should not be forgotten that Asians get hated for being Asians also outside of America: there have been many episodes where they were assaulted, verbally harassed, made fun of or even killed. That’s why we should talk about this topic and bring awareness. Stop Asian hate!