Sartaj’s Stance: Speaking out against hate crimes is everyone’s responsibility

Anti-Asian hate has reached worrying extremes with little done to address it

By Sartaj Rajpal, Editor-in-Chief

A Caucasian man shot and killed eight people in Atlanta on March 16, and six of the victims were of Asian descent.

Instead of condemning the shooting, which was clearly racially motivated, Capt. Jay Baker, a spokesman for the investigation, said that the shooter had had “a really bad day” in a press conference.

He should have denounced the violence. Instead, he offered an excuse.

Baker also seemed to have posted a photo of a racist T-shirt that read, “COVID-19: Imported virus from Chy-Na” a few months ago, according to NYT.

This is no coincidence. Racism towards Asian Americans has greatly increased since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Despite the 7% decrease in overall hate crimes in 2020, hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen by 149%, according to the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism.

Former President Donald Trump’s word choice as it pertains to the coronavirus could be partially to blame, having on many occasions referred to the coronavirus as the “China virus” and the “Kung flu.”

The number of posts with hashtags that contained anti-Asian language increased on Twitter within a week of Trump tweeting the phrase “China virus,” according to a University of California San Francisco study.

Clearly, inflammatory language has an effect on some Americans’ actions towards minorities.

Asian American hate has skyrocketed in San Francisco as well.

Just last Wednesday, a Caucasian man assaulted a 75-year-old Asian American woman on Market Street, and last month, three men beat an elderly Asian American man in a laundromat.

Hate crimes against Asian Americans — or against any other race — must stop. We need to proactively defend Asian Americans, and speaking out against both physical violence and microaggressions, which are often overlooked, is a good place to start.

Microaggressions are incidents in which minorities face subtle racism, such as when all Asians are called “smart.” Oftentimes, the people who commit microaggressions do not recognize the harmful effects of their actions.

Studies that ask Asian Americans whether they have faced microaggressions show how often Asian Americans experience racism.

Approximately 78% of participants reported at least one racial microaggression over the two-week study period,” according to a study in the Asian American Journal of Psychology.

Our society has normalized racism directed towards Asian Americans, and it’s coming to a head because of the pandemic.

As a South Asian American myself, I am disgusted by the prejudice Asian Americans face on a day-to-day basis. Recent instances of physical violence against Asian Americans are despicable, and the microaggressions Asian Americans constantly face contribute to the bigotry that plagues America.

I will continue to speak out against anti-Asian hate. I hope everyone around me will do the same.