If we are not careful, history will definitely repeat itself
Most people, including myself, when they hear the word racism, immediately begin to associate it with African Americans, and we are not necessarily wrong in doing so. However, it is easy to overlook the immense history of racism and descrimination against other groups of people, such as Asian Americans, especially when it is so rarely talked about.
For years, even in our own school, Asian Americans were considered to be “white” solely based on their lighter skin color. But if this were true, it would mean that they also benefit from all of the same privileges that come with being a white person in America, and they most certainly have not. Racism and xenophobia towards Asian Americans in our country has been present for centuries, and it is most certainly extremely prevalent today following the COVID 19 pandemic.
In the Berkeley News article, “Coronavirus: Fear of Asians Rooted in Long American History of Prejudicial Biases,” a research assistant, Winston Tseng, warns us that we could be headed towards a repeating of the history of intense and dangerous descrimination like in World War II and the Japanese internment camps.
Political leaders across the world are not doing anything to help denounce racism towards Asian people, and are in fact in some ways, encouraging it. As soon as news started to break about the coronavirus pandemic starting in Wuhan, China Donald Trump immediately started associating the virus itself with all Asians, regardless of the fact that the virus spreads the same way in everyone. He called it derogatory names such as the, “China virus” or the “Kung Flu.” When the leader of a country says something like this, he is essentially making it acceptable and normal to be prejudiced against Asian Americans. It is extremely obvious that this was the outcome when looking at the statistics from CBS news that there were 2,120 hate crimes against Asian Americans between March and June. Asian owned restaurants around the country are also losing business at record level amounts because people have been told to be scared to eat there. One popular restaurant in New York City has lost over 1.5 million dollars this past year.
Numbers as staggering as this cannot be ignored. The Anti-Asian racism and xenophobia in our country and around the world has been put on the international human rights watch. There is a call to action for all public officials to educate themselves and others to stop spreading hate speech and to promote respect.
This leads me to a question asked by @yvesIKB about how as young people, we can help build barriers across all races. I think, especially at our school and living in Massachusetts, we are all extremely fortunate to be receiving quality and well rounded educations. But we also need to use what we are learning to continue to educate those around us and build connections. Things like the global civic obligation initiative we have been taking part in this year are extremely valuable. We need to normalize the communication and empathy with those around us if we ever want a chance at starting to resolve this overpowering issue in our world.
Branching off of this idea of using even very locally our own global partners in this class, I would like to ask this question. How might you go about starting a conversation about racism and discrimination in other countries and the different ways to begin to combat it?