Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic began in 2020, backlash against Asian Americans have reached an all-time high, with around a 150% increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders this last year. Part of this stems from Wuhan, China, being the supposed epicenter of the coronavirus, but it is also the actions of our world leaders that invigorate fear and hatred against Asian Americans. During his second election campaign in 2020, U.S. President Donald Trump referred to Covid-19 as the “Kung Flu” at two of his rallies, once in Oklahoma and again in Arizona. The president also frequented his Twitter account with racist tweets about the “Chinese virus.” This is in direct violation of the World Health Organization’s guidelines for the naming of diseases, which state that since 2015, infectious diseases should not include geographic locations in order to avoid backlash against certain people. Others have since followed his example, tweeting out floods of anti-Asian rhetoric with the hashtag #chinesevirus.
The resentment against Asian Americans doesn’t just stop with harassment online. It also takes the form of twisted mouths screaming racist comments, clenched fists beating down elderly men and women, bullets tearing through wives and mothers just because of their ethnicity. In New York City, Brandon Elliot violently assaulted a 65-year-old Asian American woman outside of an apartment building. In Georgia, Robert Aaron Long murdered 8 people, 6 being of Asian descent, in Atlanta spas. These aren’t just isolated circumstances. Incidents like these are plastered all over the news and some days it seems hopeless; life feels overwhelming in the face of hate.
However, the actions of a few can and will make a difference. In spite of the massive wave of backlash against Asian Americans, people like Jacob Azevedo have banded together to protect victims of violence. Azevedo created Compassion in Oakland after hearing about the swell of anti-Asian attacks and exists to chaperone people in the Oakland Chinatown area in order to help them feel safe. The organization has over 400 volunteers and a working hotline to call whenever you need a walking friend. The name Compassion in Oakland comes from their mission statement, which reads, “We promote compassion not indifference, unity as opposed to divisiveness.” This is why you should care about what’s happening in the world right now, because we can’t just ignore it. Just like Jacob Azevedo, a Latino man who demands the unification of all minorities, we cannot just stand by while our family and friends are threatened and injured. We must call attention to the upheaval of hate against Asian Americans, and we have to say it loud.
By Callum Lee