This story is an updated version of the story linked here that was published in this year’s summer issue of The Mark.

Cover image designed by Amelia Wu

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in China, the increasing hostility towards Asian Americans has become more apparent than ever. As the virus spreads, so have the narratives of xenophobia and intolerance, with many of the violent incidents concentrated in the Bay Area. Now, the discrimination that many Asian Americans face is in the spotlight of a national discussion. 

The violence targeting Asian Americans has struck fear, anger, and anxiety in many communities throughout the country. Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased by 70% since the start of the pandemic according to the AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) hate.

“Asian communities have a target on their backs because of stereotypes… due to unforeseen and unjustified hate as a result of the virus, or possibly due to the previous president’s hatred towards the Chinese because they supposedly ‘started the virus.’”

Even though the general public has become more aware of the racism that Asian Americans face, this has been an issue for a long time.

Senior Aurelia Gemmet-Young said that her family was one of the many that were affected by anti Asian racism in the past. “My family has been here for over a hundred years, and we’ve faced a lot of discrimination at that time. My great-grandma was subject to redlining and eventually evicted out of her home because she was Chinese. Both my grandparents were shamed for their native language and the fact that they didn’t blend with the stereotypical American culture. My grandfather was denied jobs as a direct result of his race. My father was ridiculed in school and called names because of his race.” 

To this day, Gemmet-Young can relate to the some of the same discrimination her family faced. “My heritage and food has been made fun of in school, and I’ve been fetishized for my racial (mixed-race) identity.” 

Sakamoto believes that the pandemic ultimately motivated the growing animosity towards Asian-American communities. “There has been an overwhelming amount of Asian-bias in this country for several years, and stereotypes from the pandemic were just the tipping point, which equates to the extreme rise in Asian hate crimes.”

With the uptick in racially-motivated hate crimes, sophomore Nadia Ruiz said, “I feel very unsafe going out. I worry that if I’m in public, someone will start shouting racial slurs at me because it’s so common now. When I read articles about Asian hate crimes, it makes me feel like I could be next. I also worry about my family, and if they’re unsafe. I worry if my grandparents are no longer safe because of the recent crimes against Asian elders.”

“I think that’s what most Asian Americans struggle with; they don’t want to tell people about some racist experience they had because they think no one will care. Racism against Asians wasn’t brought up as often before the pandemic, so people didn’t normalize talking about it.”

Ruiz said that she feels comforted and validated by others sharing their experiences. “It’s horrible, and what angers me is that some people lack empathy and think it’s okay to do these kinds of things. I just think that more people need to realize that the Asian community could use some help and support.” Ruiz said, “I think that’s what most Asian Americans struggle with; they don’t want to tell people about some racist experience they had because they think no one will care. Racism against Asians wasn’t brought up as often before the pandemic, so people didn’t normalize talking about it.” 

“It just destroys me that people have the intention of hurting Asian communities simply because of stereotypes,” Sakamoto said. 

Ruiz expressed that the best way to help Asian communities is to “educate people… [and] support Asian-owned companies, donate, or even just check in on friends and family to see if they feel safe. Show them that they have your support, and be willing to listen and learn about their experiences.”

“Be aware of what’s happening and take action when you can. Recognize the insidious ways we are discriminated against and fight against it when you can. Amplify our voices and validate our struggles. Stand in solidarity no matter what race or ethnicity you belong to, because these attacks are a result of division and fear. Do not allow racists and terrorists to divide us. We are stronger together.”

Gemmet-Young concluded, “Be aware of what’s happening and take action when you can. Recognize the insidious ways we are discriminated against and fight against it when you can. Amplify our voices and validate our struggles. Stand in solidarity no matter what race or ethnicity you belong to, because these attacks are a result of division and fear. Do not allow racists and terrorists to divide us. We are stronger together.”

Amelia Wu

Amelia Wu is a junior and second-year journalist with the Chronicle. She is excited to write about M-A culture, opinion, and more.

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