The fading American Dream : Rise in hate crime against Asian Americans

In San Francisco, an 84 year-old Asian man died of brain hemorrhageafter being violently shoved to the ground by a teenager.

In Georgia, a man on a shooting spree ended up killing 8 women, 6 of them were Asian.

In Washington D.C., a man punched an Asian American woman in a metro subway station, shouting racial expletives and threatening her.

These three separate incidents in the United States of America constitute a very small percentage of the nearly 3800 accounts of anti-Asian hate that has been directed at Asians and Asian Americans ever since Covid-19 was declared a pandemic. Out of these, at least 500 cases have been recorded since the beginning of 2021.

The term ‘hate crime’ is being used increasingly all over social media and in news reports for quite some weeks now in light of the recent cases. But what does it mean? The FBI has defined hate crime as a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.” In simpler terms, hate crimes and hate incidents are acts of violence directed at people because of the above mentioned factors.

Image source : VOA News

The United States of America has recorded the highest number of coronavirus infections globally. Due to the country being regarded as a melting pot of different cultures, traditions, religions, races and ethnicities, it is battling the pandemic not only on the health front but also the political, social, religious and racial challenges that have emerged out of it. Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, the violence being faced by Asians has increased exponentially by nearly 150% in the country. Verbal harassment, shunning and physical assaults made up 68.1%, 20.5% and 11.1% of the total reported incidents respectively.

Blaming a certain race for the spread of a virus is illogical. It was the inability of the government to restrict the spread of the virus; however, all anger was redirected towards Asians. The number of hate crimes in 2020 against the Asian community is said to have amplified due to the xenophobic language and racial rhetoric of former president Donald Trump, who constantly blamed China, origin of the coronavirus and labelled the virus as ‘China virus’ along with many other such terms. The damaging racist remarks by the former administration have certainly changed the perception towards Asians in a very negative way.

Image source : Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Centre

Despite the repeated number of attacks that have taken place, there is no major coverage about these incidents to make the general public aware about the damage that is being caused to the Asian community. There is rising frustration among Asians Americans who have been victims of these hate crimes as no action is being taken in most of the cases against the perpetrators. This also points to the fact that the numbers being reported can be just the tip of the iceberg and the lax attitude of authorities is preventing people from speaking up. In an address made to the public on March 11, President Joe Biden condemned these heinous acts of violence and called them ‘Un-American’. Earlier this year, Biden issued the Presidential Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States which mandates that the Attorney General must explore opportunities to prevent hate crimes against Asian American and Pacific Islander individuals and expand public reporting of such incidents.

America is a land of immigrants; where people from all walks to life come to seek a brighter future. Asians Americans , particularly, are among the fastest growing community in the United States and are significantly contributing to the country. The pandemic however, has intensified discrimination and hate towards them and certainly dented their progress. It is high time the country becomes more accepting of the different cultures that reside together. Stricter laws have to be enforced to provide more visibility to these hate crimes, provide justice rightfully to victims of such hatred and violence and ensure that cases don’t go unreported. Protection of Asian Americans is a matter of utmost priority to ensure no individual is afraid to step out of their house fearing for their safety and is able to freely speak up against hate. Asian Americans are not few in number; the community is huge and American leaders must highlight their presence. The American Dream, which seems to be fading away for the Asian Americans due to the pandemic, can be revived by inclusiveness, equality and opportunities for them.

Written by- Silmi Maknojia

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