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Asian Hate Crimes in the US

The history behind disease-related Asian hate crimes, and how to help.

Lavannya Anand

Why is the phrase ‘Chinese virus’ problematic? The fact is, Covid 19 originated in China. However, the widespread travel of the disease is due to the human population as a whole. The employment of the phrase ‘Chinese virus’ indicates that not only is everyone else not to blame for their role in the spread of the virus but also that all people of south-east Asian descent are the sole cause for the spread of the virus around the world.

Racism against Asian Americans due to fear of disease dates back to when they first migrated to the states when the term ‘yellow peril’ emerged, deeming them dirty or unclean. The Chinese Exclusion act in 1882 was the starting point for the spread of xenophobic propaganda about Chinese uncleanliness, which eventually boiled over into violence. A prominent example of anti-Asian hate crimes in history would be 1899 when an entire Chinatown in Honolulu was burned down due to residents being diagnosed with bubonic plague. The plague in question arrived in flea-infested rats disembarking from ships.

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The Atlanta shooting, where eight people were killed by Robert Aaron Long open firing in multiple spas in the city. Innocent Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) walking down the street are brutally attacked and abused for supposedly bringing the virus to the states, being the reason the pandemic has not yet ended and fear of infection. Most commonly targeted are Asian elders and women.

The first and most effective thing you can do to help is simply talking about it, educate yourself and others, and discussing what’s happening. We have an immense array of resources available to us. Look up what you don’t know, keep up to date, and make sure you aren’t unintentionally spreading the wrong information. Donate to the cause; there will be organizations supporting the community linked below. If possible, please do what you can. If you have Asian American friends, check in on them, see how they’re doing. At the end of the day, keep the conversation going!

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