Anti-Asian violence an ugly racial scar in US

“Stop Asian hate” movement has erupted protests across the United States over this weekend in the wake of the Atlanta spa shootings.

A person holds a placard during a "Stop Asian Hate" rally, following the deadly shootings, in Atlanta, Georgia, US, on Mar 20, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

“Stop Asian hate” movement has erupted into protests across the United States over this weekend in the wake of the Atlanta spa shootings.

Robert Aaron Long, a 21-year-old, went on a shooting rampage on March 16, claiming that he had “sex addiction” issues and wanted to “eliminate elements” of his temptation. He chose three Asian spas to carry out his dastardly plan, and six of his eight victims were Asian women.

The crime has passed the duck test for racism: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck. It does not seem to be a random act of evil carried out indiscriminately.

Anti-Asian hate crimes are rising across the United States. The criminals often target the most vulnerable among the Asian community, including women and older people.

It is important to call a social phenomenon by its proper name. You cannot act on what you cannot name. If a crime is carried out targeting a specific racial or ethnic group, society should isolate the racist intent and call it as such.

However, in the case of Long, local authorities were hesitant to label it a racist crime, hate crime or domestic terrorism. According to the daily Beast (March 18), Georgia Sheriff Office spokesman Jay Baker said March 17 was a “really bad day” for the killer. Baker is reported to have uploaded with his tweets photographs of T-shirts with “COVID 19 Imported Virus from CHY-NA” on them. Baker asked his readers to “place your order while they last”, ending the post with a smiley.

It is hard to not link the T-shirt with the racist dog whistle of former US president Donald Trump, who consistently called the novel coronavirus the “China Virus” even after reports of anti-Asian violence increase, while the scientific study on the source of virus origin is still going on. .

On both individual and collective levels, thoughts become words. Words become actions. And these actions may eventually define a nation. So will positive actions curb bad actions?

If we allow racist thoughts and words to spread, they will grow. All of a sudden, an Asian-looking man gets shot while shopping at Walmart, or pushed down on the sidewalk while waiting at a traffic light.

At the policy level, President Joe Biden has signed the Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, which is a good start. But local organizations play an active role in curbing the rise of racist, including anti-Asian, sentiments. Such efforts should be part of the anti-racism campaign in the US.

In many cases, Asians are such a small minority that they do not get to sit at the table of racial conciliation talks, which are confined to Caucasian and African-American people. But anti-Asian violence has gained such a critical mass that it warrants greater attention and action.

On a larger scale, anti-Asian violence is part of the racism problem. An average non-Asian American may have difficulty in telling one Asian ethnic person from another. As a result, victims of anti-Asian crime include Asian and Pacific Islander Americans of Chinese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese and many other ethnic groups.

So Asian Americans should unite and become actively involved in the larger anti-racism effort. In the US, racism is more about confrontations between Caucasian and African-American people, which are the two largest ethnic groups.

Personally, I find myself inept to talk about it. Sometimes, there is a little voice within me saying that this is not my fight. But it is. I thought that I wouldn’t know which side to take in such confrontations. But the answer is simple: Take the side of equality when there is inequality, and stand with the oppressed when there is oppression.

Asian Americans should unite to oppose, and work together with other ethnic groups to oppose racist practices, even if they don’t seem to affect them personally or directly. A more equal society benefits everyone, including the minority and majority groups.

I often think of Martin Luther King Jr., and his fight in advancing civil rights for all Americans. Had it not been for his efforts and struggles and those of many other civil rights leaders, we as Asians would still be grouped as people of color forbidden to gain equal access to employment, social services, and interracial marriage, among other things.

So I appeal to people no matter where they are to join the fight against racism, because you may be living somewhere as an outsider oblivious to the injustices around you until one day, your sweet grandma gets punched on the street because some cowards hate the guts of people like her.

The author is a columnist based in Texas. The views expressed are the author’s own and may not represent views of China Daily.

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