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Friday, July 30, 2021

Echoes of the Asian American community

With the rise in hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, there is no shortage of words to describe what emotions I feel as a Filipino American; anger, sadness and disappointment above all else.

Anger towards those inclined to attack our friends, our elders and our community.

Sadness for those who have lost loved ones or have had to watch the senseless acts of violence while feeling helpless. 

Disappointment towards the country we so desperately wanted to be accepted into, but instead were greeted by the silence of so many who enjoy aspects of our cultures while we suffer.

The Los Angeles Times reports that since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, there’s been an increase in both verbal and physical racially motivated attacks on AAPIs.

The organization, Stop AAPI Hate, formed last March “in response to attacks related to the perception that Asians were responsible for the coronavirus because of its origins in Wuhan, China,” according to the LA Times.

The number of attacks, the Times said, was around 3,800 from March 2020 to February 2021.

However, this is not the first time the AAPI community has faced bouts of discrimination.

According to an article on One Down, during the wave of Filipino immigrants during the 1920s, “mobs burned down workers’ living quarters, threw stones at Filipinos in the streets and threatened Filipinos with ultimatums to leave the county or die.”

Another instance of injustice against Asian Americans was the placement of Japanese internment camps during WWII. The U.S. History website reports that over 127,000 people were imprisoned because of their Japanese ancestry, despite their American citizenship. 

The Huffington Post wrote that many Japanese Americans during WWII faced a lot of anti-Japanese sentiment, including “bigoted sloagans,” and “racists attitudes perpetuated by government officials.”

The New American Economy Research Fund reports that there are approximately 1.4 million AAPI healthcare workers in the country who have worked on the frontlines during the COVID-19 crisis. 

So, why are so many Americans treating them with hatred?

In light of the recent violence, I strongly believe that to stay quiet while these incidents are happening daily is hurting our community. 

I am tired of worrying for my safety as well as the safety of my loved ones. I don’t want to live in fear.

This is not a matter of politics. Acts of racism and violence should be condemned. What the AAPI community needs most right now is solidarity and support. 

‘Asian’ is not a virus, racism is.

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