Hate crimes reveal roots of racism in U.S.


Photo by Caroline Brehman/CQ Roll Call

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., attends a news conference on the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act after the House passed the bill.

By Cory Rambuski, Staff Writer

As COVID vaccinations increase in the U.S., states start to see a decrease in new cases.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said about hate crimes against Asian Americans. According to STOP AAPI HATE there have been 3,795 hate incidents from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021.

The Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University reports that from 2019 to 2020 hate crimes “targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent” while overall hate crimes decreased by 7 percent.

The increase of hate and violence against Asian Americans can certainly be attributed to the origins of COVID-19 and people like Donald Trump, who consistently used the phrase “China Virus” throughout his presidency. Fox News Host Tucker Carlson backed Trump saying that “describing a virus from Wuhan as the Wuhan Virus is not xenophobia.”

However, according to the Los Angeles Times, Denny Kim, a 27-year-old Asian American Air Force veteran, was approached by two men who yelled “China virus” and proceeded to leave him with a black eye.

NBC News’ Victoria Namkung reports that “during the earliest days of the novel coronavirus, a middle school student in Los Angeles County was told by a classmate that he was a COVID-19 carrier and should ‘go back to China.’”

The racist rhetoric spewed by the conservative right is and always has been the cause of such violent acts against minority groups.

The United States’ long, dark history of racism and bigotry sheds light on just how poorly our leaders have performed when faced with moral and ethical decisions.

One of the earliest occurrences of discrimination against people of Asian decent was when President Chester A. Arthur signed into law The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. This law was created to appease white workers who thought Chinese immigrants were the cause of decreases in wages despite the fact that Chinese people only made up .002 percent of the nation’s population at the time.

In 1922 Takao Ozawa, a Japanese native, was found ineligible for United States citizenship by the Supreme Court despite living within the country for 20 years. Ozawa argued that he was just as “white” as any Caucasian, however, the Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Naturalization Act of 1906 which allowed only “free white persons” to naturalize.

After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 President Roosevelt, out of fear of espionage, immediately forced all citizens of Japanese ancestry to live in internment camps.

More recently, we have all seen the videos on social media of multiple instances where elderly Asian people have been attacked. There was also the multi-spa shooting in March that took place in Atlanta. Eight people were shot and killed, six of whom were of Asian descent according to The New York Times.

There are many more examples like these that expose the plethora of real issues we face in the United States. It has been made abundantly clear that we as a nation need to elect leaders who stand up to bullies, not embrace them.

It is crucial to keep in mind just how imperative Asian Americans, like African Americans, have been to the development of this country.

In 1849 the California gold rush triggered the first wave of Chinese immigrants to the U.S. For over a decade Chinese laborers mined for gold and worked in the fields harvesting crops.

By the mid 1860s thousands of Chinese immigrants were working for the Central Pacific Railroad Company. Their labor was heavily exploited in the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, completed in 1869. The completion of this railway system was perhaps one of the most important achievements in American history.

According to the Pew Research Center “23 million Asian Americans trace their roots to more than 20 countries in East and Southeast Asia and the Indian subcontinent, each with unique histories, cultures, languages and other characteristics.” Today Asians make up about 6% of the U.S. population.

It is extremely unfortunate that so many minorities have been mistreated in the so-called “Land of Opportunity.” The White Supremacist ideology is still deeply ingrained in American culture and we will continue to see hate within our communities if we allow organizations like Fox News and OAN to put out misinformation. As American citizens we all have a duty to stand up for those that cannot stand up for themselves. Right now the Asian American community needs us, it’s up to you to make the difference.