Coronavirus sparks increase in anti-Asian hate crimes across U.S.

Coronavirus sparks increase in anti-Asian hate crimes across U.S.

Photo Credits: MARIO RODRIGUEZ / AGGIE

Asians, Asian-Americans have been targets of racial discrimination due to paranoia, misinformation

Since news of the coronavirus pandemic became public, Asians and Asian Americans have become the recent targets of racial discrimination. Asians and Asian Americans are blamed nationally for the cause and spread of COVID-19, resulting in a significant increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. These hate crimes include derogatory remarks, verbal attacks replete with racial slurs, racist vandalism and, in some cases, physical assault. 

Ayanna Yonemura, a professor of Asian American Studies at UC Davis and lecturer at Sacramento State University, admitted that she was saddened but not surprised. 

“If we look back at U.S. history, we do see issues of discrimination and scapegoating against Asian Americans,” Yonemura said. 

It goes hand-in-hand with the long-existing myths that Asians are dirty and unhygienic, Yonemura further explained, and pre-existing stereotypes about Asians and Asian Americans. 

Yonemura viewed this situation as a rude or abrupt awakening of the fact that the nation has more to work on. She emphasized the importance of finding ways to support various Asian advocates and civil rights organizations, as well as taking this opportunity to work with those who do not necessarily identify as Asian or Asian American. 

“I want to take this opportunity to express my concern and my empathy for people who are feeling targeted and people who are feeling afraid,” Yonemura said. “It’s enough of a burden for any human being right now to be afraid for the health of themselves and their loved ones.”

Davis Mayor Brett Lee, who is Asian American, explained that discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans has always existed, but now it has become more visible.

“This current COVID-19 situation has not created racism where it did not exist,” Lee said. “It sort of opened the door for people to express underlying racist views.” 

Lee said the City of Davis does not support the blaming of people’s race in any way, and condemns discrimination and xenophobia in all forms. While Lee was not familiar with any hate crimes that occurred specifically within the City of Davis, he assured that the Davis Police Department would take any reported incidents very seriously. 

“I think this has really shown what racism is — at some level — all about, which is trying to find an easy ‘other’ to blame,” Lee said. “As a society, we can do better, and we absolutely should do better.”

Stacey Salinas, a senior historian of the Bulosan Center for Filipino Studies, had more to say on how Americans can help fight anti-Asian discrimination with knowledge and awareness instead of ignorance and prejudice.

“We must reorganize and rethink what our federal government’s cultural beliefs are,” Salinas said. “It would fall on us to continue building an Asian platform.”

Salinas also emphasized that taking action against this issue is simpler than one might think. 

“Just remember that you matter,” Salinas said. “As long as you’re present — you don’t have to be the person driving the movement, you can be the person sitting in the backseat or even be in the passenger seat — because as long as you’re part of being present, then that’s another thing to add to the movement of being recognized and having a voice.” 

Written By: Jelena Lapuz —  city@theaggie.org