Violence against AAPI people, especially women, is happening at alarming levels. From LA to New York City to Atlanta, since March 2020 almost 11,000 hate incidents have been reported to Stop AAPI Hate. From verbal harassment to murder, these crimes are serious and affect our daily lives. We must speak up against incidents that affect our community and ourselves.
Standing up to this is uncomfortable but use your voice to advocate change. When you refuse to accept someone’s ignorance or racism and hate in school or the workplace, you begin to make change. Using your voice can inspire others to be brave against discrimination too. We don’t have to be liked, but we must be respected. It is an everyday action that can change our interactions with others while our larger communities, lawmakers and advocates fight for systemic changes against AAPI hate.
A strong example happened to me a few months ago in New York City. I was meeting my family for lunch, and while my daughter was waiting for the table, a man said something racist and vulgar to her. She didn’t want to provoke more abuse, or cause a scene understandably. We were just there to get lunch. However, it was a nice restaurant and it was unacceptable that while minding her own business this man chose to harass her.
So I marched over to his table when she told me about the incident, and I asked him who he thought he was to say such a thing to a stranger. Why should he get to eat in peace after intimidating someone? Yet he believed he could act in such a way without repercussion. This happens every day to members of our AAPI community.
Many harmful stereotypes have driven the rise in AAPI hate crime. The COVID-19 pandemic spurred a new round of othering Asians, especially Chinese people and Chinese Americans, though anti-Asian sentiment often ignores the cultural differences between Asian ethnicities. Asians are assumed to be the model minority, and this stereotype harms all of us. One of the most damaging stereotypes for AAPI women is the assumption of meekness or obedience, while hyper-sexualizing us. Asian women face many threats specifically due to men’s desire for who they think we should be to them.
From micro-aggressions like assigning the wrong ethnicity and treating AAPI people as invisible to outright violence, the AAPI community is facing serious threats. There is a long history of discrimination against Asians in America, from the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese Internment. Asians from East Asia are seen as interchangable while the realities of Southeast Asians are often denied under model minority assumptions. The diversity within AAPI cultures is often ignored, or whitewashed.
Efforts to provide opportunities for Asians induce backlash as well. Many White Americans see diversity efforts as taking away opportunities they previously had thought of as their own. Assimilation to the white, male-dominated society is seen as necessary, and yet our perspectives and experiences are powerful on their own.
Below are disturbing trends from stopaapihate.org, an advocacy organization tracking anti-Asian hate. It’s difficult to comprehend, and yet we have power to stand up against it. Check out our Action Kit for more ways you can empower your own inner Warrior Queen.
- Verbal harassment (63.0%) continues to make up the biggest share of total incidents reported.
- Physical assault (16.2%) comprises the second largest category of total reported incidents followed by the deliberate avoidance of AAPIs (16.1%).
- Almost half (48.7%) of all hate incidents took place in public spaces — in public streets (31.2%), public transit (8.4%), and public parks (8.0%).
- Hate incidents reported by women make up 61.8% of all reports.
- For the first time the report includes disaggregated data from non-binary AAPI respondents. It shows that they experience more deliberate avoidance or shunning (21.4%), being coughed at or spat on (13.9%), denial of service (8.3%) and online harassment (12.1%) than AAPI women and men.
- Civil rights violations — e.g., workplace discrimination, refusal of service, being barred from transportation, and housing-related discrimination — account for 11.5% of total incidents.
- Chinese Americans continue to report the most hate incidents (42.8%) of all ethnic groups, followed by Korean (16.1%), P/Filipinos (8.9%), Japanese (8.2%), and Vietnamese Americans (8.0%).