Statement on Asian American Hate Crimes

March 18, 2021
  • Immigration
  • President and Executive Director Updates
  • covid-19
  • Discrimination
  • Race

AACRAO condemns the discrimination and hate crimes directed at Asian Americans. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic there has been a marked rise in incidents of violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the U.S.

In fact, hate crimes against Asian Americans in 16 of America's biggest cities climbed 150 percent last year, with a spike in March and April, according to research earlier this month from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino, which analyzed official police data.

These incidents have included physical attacks, racial slurs and other forms of harassment, many occurring on the campuses of our colleges and universities. And it appears that women have disproportionately been the targets of attacks.

Some of this expansion must surely be rooted in the racist labelling of the coronavirus by the previous administration in an attempt to divert the blame for the mismanagement of the pandemic here in the U.S. Racism and discrimination in any form is unacceptable, but the physical and public confrontations that Asian Americans have experienced is particularly disturbing. The murder of six Asian women in Georgia this week is more a part of a pattern than an isolated incident.   

Like discrimination against African Americans in this country, discrimination against Asian Americans is not new. Chinese immigrants arriving in the U.S. in the mid 1800's to help build the Transcontinental Railroad faced harassment and racist labels, culminating in the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. At the AACRAO Annual Meeting in Los Angeles actor George Takei eloquently shared his family's story of being forcibly removed from their home and sent to internment camps in Arkansas and northern California. In his graphic novel, They Called Us Enemy, he writes that "Shame is a cruel thing . . . It should rest on the perpetrators, but they don't carry it the way the victims do." He was referring to the architects of this cruel chapter in American history, but it could equally apply to those who would discriminate against their fellow Asian American citizens today.

America is about inclusion, not exclusion. This sentiment remains not only relevant but essential as we all confront the growing racism in this country. I encourage you to both condemn and confront racism when you see it. That is a core American value.


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