Much like last year with the murder of George Floyd in broad daylight, now we find ourselves in a moment of racial reckoning as we continue to witness daily violent attacks against members of American and Pacific Islander community all over the country.
In the last few weeks, the assaults seem to be increasingly targeting elders of Asian descent who are just going about their day running errands, walking to church or on their way home. Other reported assaults consist of racist slurs hurled at people minding their business.
But these attacks peaked last week when six women of Asian descent were murdered in Georgia at three different massage parlors as a man walked in their place of work with an AR-15 and murdered them in cold blood.
The most recent attack captured on video in New York was perpetrated against a 65-year-old Filipino woman who was on her way to church when a man kicked her on the chest. Then when she fell backward, he continued brutally stomping on her face and yelling at her “you don’t belong here.” People witnessing the attack did not intervene, defend or aid her.
These are the victims of bigotry and of great injustices whose only offense was to exist while trying to live their lives at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
The hatred against Asian Americans began last year when former president Trump riled up his supporters when he started propagating lies about COVID-19 by calling it the “China virus” or the “Wuhan virus” with evident racist undertones.
Privileged people are letting their prejudices, fears, hatred and distrust of others supersede their humanity and compassion for other fellow human beings.
And also, there seems to be an unrelenting resistance to accept this country’s rich diversity, the fact that we are a nation made of immigrants, and that diversity makes our nation stronger and more powerful.
This rise in attacks caused by anti-Asian rhetoric was confirmed in the alarming and devastating report released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. This study assessed that hate crimes against AAPI people have seen an increase of 150% between 2019 and 2020.
Lamentably, these attacks are not relenting even after the pleas of dozens of human rights organizations and activists as well as mass rallies and protests around the country for an end to violence against members of the AAPI community.
To combat anti-Asian crimes, President Biden and the White House announced they will be taking formal steps to curve these attacks.
Among them, a joint initiative with the Department of Justice to prioritize the prosecution of attackers, the allocation of a $50 million fund for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, a $33 million fund to conduct research to end AAPI discrimination and violent attacks, and the establishment of a task force to end xenophobia.
Additionally, the FBI will be publishing an interactive hate crime page on its Crime Data Explorer website that will “spotlight reports of anti-Asian hate crimes.”
Furthermore, 188 Asian American groups are calling for AAPI awareness and solidarity by planning a demonstration in the Washington Mall in D.C. during Asian heritage month next May.
But what’s more devastating is that our fellow Asian Americans feel unsafe when making the difficult decision to go outside or feel fearful for their elders being in danger when they are out and alone.
We must defeat ignorance, prejudice, xenophobia, racism and violence against Asian Americans.
We must stand united and condemn all racially motivated attacks against members of the AAPI community, decry anti-Asian hate speech, and for the public to do the right thing by stepping forward and intervene if they see an injustice being perpetrated against a member of this community.
We need to be allies by staying alert and supporting our Asian peers, our friends and our neighbors because their identity is more than a race: they are human like all of us.
This is an urgent call for unity and solidarity as members of the AAPI community deserve kindness, dignity and respect and to live their lives in peace.