Asian hate is running rampant in our country, causing a national crisis that must be addressed urgently to ensure the safety of all Asian Americans.
In the last year, rates of Asian hate crimes have increased drastically as a result of incorrect targeting this population as responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this is not the first time Asian Americans have been deemed responsible for the spread of disease in an attempt to “justify” racial discrimination and violence:
The increase in U.S. immigration rates caused many white Americans to fear loss of jobs and a disruption of their quality of life. Chinese and Japanese immigrants were incorrectly blamed for spread of diseases like syphilis, leprosy, and smallpox, which expanded to create widespread “Yellow Peril” in the United States. “Yellow Peril” ultimately led to the 1882 passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers.
United States officials target Asian immigrants for a bubonic plague outbreak in Hawaii. In response, the government implements a lockdown in Honolulu’s Chinatown and set fires to “sanitize” the area, effectively destroying it and leaving thousands displaced.
Many Americans target Asian Americans as responsible for the global SARS outbreak, leading to a significant increase in rampant harassment and hate crimes. During this time, Chinatowns in some U.S. cities report as much as a 90% decrease in revenue during 2003-2004 year. Importantly, no SARS-related death was ever reported by the CDC in the United States.
Major United States political figures commonly refers COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” or “China virus,” encouraging many to blame Asian Americans for pandemic spread. In November 2020, an Economist poll found 64% of all registered voters reported it was definitely or probably true that China itself was responsible for the pandemic.
New data demonstrates a sharp incline in hate crimes against Asians in American, especially Asian women. Of 3,800 anti-Asian hate crimes reported to Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center in the last year (an increase from 2,800 the year before), 68% of these incidents were against Asian women. A recent Pew Study reports 58% of Asian Americans feel it is more common to experience racism now than it was before COVID-19 and 31% Asian Americans reported they have been subjected to slurs or jokes because of their race or ethnicity in the last year.
YWCA Greater Cleveland denounces local and national anti-Asian hate crimes and identifies the rise in Asian hate as a national crisis. As we continue to dedicate ourselves to our Strategic Plan guideline to ensure the health and safety of all women and girls, we recognize this cannot be accomplished without ensuring the safety of Asian Americans in our community and across the country.
Yesterday’s devastating demonstration of hate and racism left six Asian American women dead in Atlanta, Georgia. Now, more than ever, is the need for immediate change made clear. YWCA Greater Cleveland stands in solidarity with those working to ensure equity and safety specifically for Asian Americans. Join us in acting now to address the rise of Asian hate in our country by visiting Stop AAPI Hate’s action page.