The shooting in Atlanta last week that claimed eight lives left Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities across America rattled, particularly after a year that saw an explosion in hate crimes against Asian Americans. In 2020 alone 2,808 hate incidents were reported, with over a thousand more reports filtering in through 2021.
A History of Racism Against Asian-Americans
None of this is new, unfortunately. Racism against Asian Americans dates back to the 1800s when Chinese immigrants began arriving in America. Dubbed the “Yellow Peril,” the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed, the first law in the United States that prohibited immigration based on race. A century later, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt infamously ordered mass incarceration of those suspected of being enemies into internment camps. Most of those interned were of Japanese descent, despite being naturalized first, second, or third-generation Americans.
Today, AAPI hate manifests itself in various ways: the rise of Islamophobia after 9/11, the attribution of the pandemic to Asian Americans, and more.
Thanks to the harmful modern minority myth, many believe that the AAPI community is represented as a monolithic group: hard-working, excel at school, and achieve educational and career success. The model minority myth glosses over the realities that the AAPI community faces. In reality, many Asian Americans who have been attacked are working class, elderly, or disproportionately women.
What can you do to #STOPAAPIHATE?
The AACRAO API Caucus extends its concern for those who may have experienced this discrimination or racism first-hand. We encourage everyone to read this article about Catherine Shieh’s experience with anti-Asian hate and violence, and how no one helped her or intervened during her attack.
How can you intervene if you witness a similar situation?
We are sharing resources for free bystander intervention training, provided by the Asian Americans Advancing Justice (Chicago) which partnered with New York-based anti-harassment nonprofit Hollaback. While the training sessions by Asian American Advancing Justice are full, there are training sessions available through Hollaback. Catherine Shieh, anti-hate coordinator at AAAJ, leads the online training sessions and we believe everyone can benefit.
If you are an AAPI AACRAO member, we encourage you to join or reach out to the Asian-American and Pacific Islander Caucus. Lean on your community.
AACRAO's Executive Director has released an official statement in response to the recent uptick in Asian-American violence and discrimination around the United States.