The Spread of a New Virus: Asian Hate Crimes on the Rise

Hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise as part of a surge in abuse since the start of the pandemic a year ago.

By Brian Zhang

An elderly Thai immigrant dies after being shoved to the ground. A Chinese woman is hit and then spat on. A Filipino-American is slashed in the face with a knife. For months, headlines and hashtags have been telling the same story: Violence against Asian Americans has been on the rise. While hatred towards the Asian community is anything but new, animosity toward the ethnic group has only heightened over the course of the Coronavirus pandemic.

Last March, then-President Donald Trump referred to the Coronavirus as “the Chinese virus.” Subsequently, many Asian Americans said they were blamed for bringing COVID-19 to the US.  In response to this narrative, there have been an unrelenting series of episodes where Asian-Americans have been pushed, beaten, spit on and called racial slurs.

“I think what’s important is that all Americans feel included at all times. By labeling COVID-19 the China Virus or Kung Flu, it certainly created some anti-Asian sentiment within our country. It really is very unfortunate because especially during a crisis, the last thing we want is for any group of people to experience hate or exclusion,” says junior Alex Berkman.

There were nearly 3,800 complaints of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans from March 19, 2020, through the end of February 2021, according to the coalition Stop AAPI Hate. According to the New York Police Department, anti-Asian violence has risen over 1900% in 2020.

“I believe that so many people who haven’t experienced or even seen racism within the Asian American community unintentionally ignore the topic. In order for this hatred and violence to stop, people all around Westchester, and America, need to learn more about what is going on and how they can help,” says junior Alec Miller, who is also the founder and president of the club STAR (Standing Together Against Racism) at Byram Hills.

In response to this rise in hate, activists have taken to social media to spread awareness of the daily discrimination marginalized groups face and discuss how people should address these issues. Numerous hashtags, including #stopasianhate and #hateisavirus, have been trending on social media as well. Also noteworthy, some platforms, namely Spotify, have even promoted awareness of the topic with a collection of podcasts and playlists.

While social media activism may be beneficial in some ways, many have stated that this type of activism is too short-lasting and in reality, merely just a trend. Junior and club member of STAR Evan Weis thinks that “people who post on social media have good intentions; but unfortunately, [social media] isn’t an effective way of actually fixing the issue.”

Beyond social media, there are multiple ways to inform, educate, and motivate others to help out. “If you want change, you have to show it to people who have great authority, such as politicians. Writing letters, boycotting, and peacefully protesting are all far more effective than posting on social media where only your followers can see,” explained Evan. As Evan noted, there are numerous ways to establish change. Writing letters, boycotting, and peaceful protests are all effective methods. But what’s most important is that people are truly committed to this change. Because change is needed. Now more than ever.

What you can do to help

Here are a variety of links gathered to help educate others on Asian American experiences, as well as ways to help support/donate to these organizations. 

https://www.advancingjustice-aajc.org/ways-give – Empowers and protects Asian Americans

https://www.aaldef.org/take-action/ – Protects civil rights of Asian Americans 

https://www.imreadymovement.org/ – Raises awareness of experiences of AAPI women

https://napiesv.org/ – Advocates for AAPI sexual assault victims 

https://www.apexforyouth.org/ – Education opportunities for low-income Asian families in NYC 

https://www.welcometochinatown.com/ – Supports Chinatown businesses and makes Asians heard

https://caaav.org/ – Leadership opportunities for low-income Asian families in NYC 

Asian Mental Health Collective: Organizations Directory – Health/mental health organizations for Asians

https://www.cranes4change.com/donate-for-earrings – A list of sites to donate to (Asian owned businesses in Chinatown) in exchange for earrings