SOPHIA HUA, SERENA LIN (Editors in Chief)
H.G. Wells once said that “our true nationality is mankind.” But despite such idealistic views, people of color have always faced discrimination. With the COVID-19 pandemic, minority groups are among the most impacted demographics in the United States. In particular, violence against Asian-Americans has risen dramatically. Condoning this violence by failing to address and prevent it in the future is a dangerous path down the wrong side of history.
From landmark moments such as the passing of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882 to Executive Order 9066, which led to the mass relocation of Japanese-Americans to internment camps, Asian-Americans have been negatively impacted by the way American mainstream culture treats them. Harmful stereotypes, notably the “model-minority” stereotype, continue contributing to the degradation that Asian-Americans face. And recent events only make the situation worse.
With the rise of COVID-19, there has been an increase in inflammatory language, such as politicians referring to the virus as the “Chinese virus” rather than its scientific name. Prominent figures such as former President Trump have taken advantage of such inflammatory language to fuel conflict, especially as American foreign policy continues to favor more hostile relations with China.
Anger at the economic downturn and the difficult circumstances brought on by the pandemic has erupted into a massive increase in violent actions against Asian-Americans. For example, six Asian women were murdered at an Atlanta spa just two days ago. And this was not an isolated incident. From March 2020 to Dec. 2020, Stop AAPI Hate has received over 2,800 reports of anti-Asian hate, with about 7.3% of the total incidences targeted at elderly Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.
The situation is not hopeless. Violence against Asian-Americans can be stopped if politicians recognize the consequences of politicizing a virus. Denouncing the use of terms such as the “Chinese virus” or “China virus” is an easy first step to doing so, as well as simply showing support for Asian-American communities that have been unfairly cast as the instigators of the pandemic. As U.S. relations with China worsen, it is vital that American leaders make the distinction between Asian-American citizens and who it sees as enemies abroad.
Asian-Americans are still Americans and it is important to recognize that they are as much victims to the economic, social and political struggles the pandemic has wrought in the United States as anyone else. Violence against Asians is an example of racial discrimination that will shatter progress toward a diverse and united nation, especially in a time when everyone is facing a virus that does not discriminate along racial lines.