Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans Rising Exponentially
February 22, 2017
Hate crimes targeting the Asian-American community have been on the rise, especially since the beginning of the election cycle. The Los Angeles County Commission on Human Relations reports that such crimes have tripled between 2014 and 2015. One recent incident involved vandalism using racial slurs, appalling many. The Xiong family living in Oakdale, Minnesota was frantically woken early in the morning by the mailman when he saw "chinks" spray painted across their garage; their car was also vandalized. The family had only recently moved into their new home and were horrified by the rampant racism evident in the cruel letters.
However, hate incidents against the Asian-American community aren't new. Documented hate crimes go all the way back to the 1800s, such as when the white supremacist group, Arsonists of the Order of Caucasians, murdered four Chinese men by setting them on fire. Fast-forwarding to the 21st century, In 2006, four Asian men were brutally attacked in Queens, New York, one of them possibly being left with a fractured skull. In even more recent years, a New York Police Department cruiser ran over and killed Ryo Oyamada, a 24-year-old Japanese-American student. The court ruled in favor of the NYPD, deeming the situation unavoidable. In January of this year, a 60-year-old Chinese-American man was shot dead at night in his own car while playing Pokémon Go by a security guard in Chesapeake, Virginia.
Despite these revolting accounts of racism, many hate crimes against Asian-Americans are kept under the radar. These stories seldom have a large impact on national data because they are so underreported; many victims stay silent, afraid of law enforcement or not wishing to draw attention to themselves. However, such an attitude only magnifies the reputation of Asian-Americans as a quiet, subservient "model minority," serving to further propel racist behavior.
Nevertheless, efforts are being made to safeguard Asian-Americans as a community. One such effort is the recent creation of a tracking website, https://www.standagainsthatred.org/, by civil and human rights nonprofit group, Asian Americans Advancing Justice. The website documents hate incidents reported by people from all around the country, encouraging victims to reach out with their stories.
Another recent push towards the breaking of silence concerning hate crimes targeting Asian-Americans can be found on a certain college campus. At Columbia University, many Asian-American and international students had their names ripped off of their dorm rooms doors. However, rather than keeping silent about the xenophobic act, the international Chinese community at Columbia created a video called "Say My Name" in which they explained the meaning and value behind each of their own names. They encourage their audience to get to know them as people with families, cultures, dreams, and personalities, as opposed to simply seeing the foreign-looking and sounding names that they were given. The video serves as a powerful reminder of human-to-human respect, a key puzzle piece missing in the turbulent hatred of racism.