Hate Crimes Against Asian Community Spike in the US

Hannah Chun, Around School Editor

Racism is certainly not new, but data has shown a spike in racism toward America’s Asian and Asian American community over the past year, with the first spike occurring in March and April of 2020, right around the time when the COVID-19 pandemic began to encompass our lives. The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism observed sixteen large cities in the U.S. and concluded that despite hate crimes decreasing by 7% overall in 2020, hate crimes against Asian people in particular increased by almost 150% in that same year. New York City and Los Angeles proved to be the cities with the most hate crimes against Asians—with anti-Asian hate crimes increasing by 833% from 2019 to 2020 in New York City specifically. Even here in Boston, these crimes increased from 6% to 14% in that same time period.

There are many instances of these racially-motivated attacks including a woman spitting on and yelling slurs at an Asian American man in Silicon Valley; an 84-year-old Thai man being attacked and killed; a Filipino American man being slashed across the face with a box cutter in a NYC subway, later needing about 100 stitches; and an assault and robbery carried out on a 75-year-old Asian man, leaving him brain dead. All of these attacks are said to have been completely unprovoked.

To make matters worse, some of the suspects have been getting away with minimal charges, despite the events’ categorization as racially motivated or hate crimes. However, with the data that shows a massive surge in anti-Asian attacks during the pandemic, topped with many people’s racist opinions about the virus and its origins, it seems safe to say that these assaults and even killings are racially motivated.

Many attribute the rise to former President Donald Trump’s racism regarding the coronavirus.

While there may be a variety of reasons for this uptick in attacks targeting Asians, many attribute the rise to former President Donald Trump’s racism regarding the coronavirus and how he and other members of the GOP often referred to it as the “China virus,” or “Wuhan virus,” which could have sparked prejudice in people. “What Trump did is that he weaponized it in a way,” says Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder and director of the nonprofit AAPI Data, in an interview with NBC Asian America. “Trump’s rhetoric helps set a certain narrative in place—and presidents have an outsized role in terms of shaping narrative.” Indeed, research has proven that Trump’s hateful language does in fact affect the way people treat marginalized groups, according to Ramakrishnan. This has been nicknamed the “Trump effect.”

In response to these tragic events, rallies are being held and many are raising their voices on social media, especially with the popular hashtag #StopAsianHate. A march against anti-Asian hate crimes will also take place in Boston Common on Saturday, March 13th at 1 PM, where people will unite and walk to the Massachusetts State House to encourage legislators to take action.

With hope on the horizon for the end of COVID-19, especially with the new vaccines being administered, hope might also be present for ending these heartbreaking hate crimes against Asians and every other group of people. Racism will never help fix the world’s issues, but unity certainly can.