Opinion: We must take action against Asian American hate

Ella Waldman, Features Editor

In the past year, hate crimes against Asian Americans have risen dramatically in conjunction with the number of COVID-19 cases across the country. Asian Americans have been forced to face verbal harassment, physical assault and the repercussions of constant hate due to the racist and illegitimate associations between their community and the spread of the coronavirus. 

Stop AAPI Hate, an organization founded to document and respond to the alarming increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, reported 3,795 incidents of hate from March 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021. Of these incidents, 68% were verbal harassment and 11.1% were physical assault. 

Founder and director of demographic data and policy research at AAPI Data, Karthick Ramakrishnan, said that this increase is especially significant considering the fact that first-generation immigrants often under-report hate crimes and racist incidents. 

Additionally, the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, released an analysis of increases in hate crimes across the largest cities in the United States. The results from this survey showed that anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City rose from three in 2019 to 28 in 2020, an 833% increase. Major cities such as Los Angeles and Boston also experienced incredibly significant increases.

These numbers are completely unacceptable. Hate crimes are rooted in racism and xenophobia, and many experts have correlated the incidents to racist remarks from former President Donald J. Trump. With his insistence on calling COVID-19 the “China Virus” and the “kung flu,” he encouraged and popularized a racist mindset in this country. 

As Jews, we have also faced our fair share of discriminatory remarks. According to ADL’s 2020 survey on Jewish Americans’ experiences with antisemitism, over the past five years, 54% of Jewish Americans have experienced or witnessed an incident that was believed to have been motivated by antisemitism. 

As members of another minority group who understand the terror of discrimination because of our identity, we have a responsibility to do what we can to support the Asian American community. The Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world, is an obligation we all bear. We must utilize our experiences and the conviction of our Jewish values to become the strongest allies possible. 

Instead of just standing in silent support with the victims of anti-Asian hate crimes, take action. Start by educating yourself about the issue. Organizations such as Stop AAPI Hate and Hate Is A Virus provide helpful resources and information about recent hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. These organizations also provide opportunities for raising awareness and donating to help combat this growing problem. 

However, taking action doesn’t have to be something big. Smaller actions such as calling out a friend if they make a racist joke, posting something on social media or even just starting conversation about these issues with the people around you are great ways to be allies. No matter how you do it, taking action is essential. We can not sit back and watch as others suffer.