With the second wave of COVID-19 happening around the world, it can be easy to forget what it was like when the virus first emerged in our communities. For people of East Asian descent based in the United States, however, the staggering number of hate crimes targeting Asians will forever leave a scar, a scar that constantly reminds them of the amount of intense hostility, discrimination and prejudice they were subjected to since the country’s first COVID-19 case. It became astonishingly normal to open up your phone and see news articles about Asians being spit on, verbally abused, and beaten up while riding the bus, or the subway, or walking down the streets- solely because of their skin color.
These racist incidents have had a tremendous impact on all members of the East Asian community, including Asian Americans, international students and recent immigrants. The COVID-19 pandemic has shed light on issues regarding our identities in the country, our place in the American society. For those born and raised in the United States, the pandemic may have forced them to outrightly confront the underlying Anti-Asian prejudice for the first time in their lives; for those who were never able to fully assimilate into the American culture now feel even more alienated and dislocated than ever.
We have become hyperaware of “sticking out” or feeling “out of place”. But why? Because of our skin color? As ridiculous as it sounds, it is indeed the main reason behind these racially-motivated hate crimes. On top of that, with the surge of Black Lives Matter movement, the United States, a country that preaches unity and equality, seems to have become the face of injustice.
Racist attacks against East Asians have decreased since the height of the pandemic. Nevertheless, this does not mean that anti-Asian prejudice has just simply disappeared. Only a few members of the Asian community have spoken out about the discrimination against Asians, and even fewer have attempted to initiate tangible changes. There could be countless reasons stopping them from standing up for themselves, such as the Model Minority myth or fear of invalidating a cause like BLM. But what we need is support from one another. The Asian community needs to come together, take actions, and create a space to address Anti-Asian racism. We need to realize that there is immense power in unity.
An article by Time, titled “‘I Will Not Stand Silent.’ 10 Asian Americans Reflect on Racism During the Pandemic and the Need for Equality”