Readings and Streamings:
Note: It’s important that you read and/or watch at least SIX (6) of the 12 items listed below AND clearly reference them in your post. I would especially urge you to include within your choices #3 from Human Rights Watch (HRW) for a global perspective on this topic:
- Ivan Natividad, “Coronavirus: Fear of Asians rooted in long American history of prejudicial policies,” Berkeley News, February 12, 2020 https://news.berkeley.edu/2020/02/12/coronavirus-fear-of-asians-rooted-in-long-american-history-of-prejudicial-policies
- Stephanie Garcia, “’I am not a Virus’: How This Artist is Illustrating Coronavirus-Fueled Racism,” PBS, April 1, 2020. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/arts/i-am-not-a-virus-how-this-artist-is-illustrating-coronavirus-fueled-racism
- “Covid 19 fueling Anti-Asian Racism and Xenophobia Worldwide,” Human Rights Watch, May 12, 2020. https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/05/12/covid-19-fueling-anti-asian-racism-and-xenophobia-worldwide
- Anna Purna Kambhampaty and Haruka Sakaguchi, “’I Will Not Stand Silent.’ 10 Asian-Americans Reflect on Racism During the Pandemic and the Need for Equality.” Time, June 25, 2020. https://time.com/5858649/racism-coronavirus/
- Sarah Li, “Anti-Asian Hate Has Surged during the Coronavirus Pandemic, Reports Find,” Teen Vogue, September 18, 2020. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/anti-asian-racism-stop-aapi-hate
- Felix Sitthivong, “Coronavirus has sparked another epidemic in my prison: Anti-Asian Racism,” The Marshall Project, December 3, 2020. https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/12/03/coronavirus-has-sparked-another-epidemic-in-my-prison-anti-asian-racism
- Liz Mineo, “The scapegoating of Asian Americans,” Harvard Gazette, March 24, 2021. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2021/03/a-long-history-of-bigotry-against-asian-americans/
- Michael Eric Dyson, “Why don’t we treat Asian American history the way we treat Black history,” Washington Post, March 26, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/asian-black-atlanta-history/2021/03/26/9f10a9ac-8d98-11eb-9423-04079921c915_story.html
- Jay Caspian King, “The Myth of Asian-American Identity,” The New York Times Magazine, October 5, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/10/05/magazine/asian-american-identity.html
- Sakshi Venkatraman, “Asian hate crimes rose 73% last year, updated FBI data says,” NBC News, October 25, 2021.https://www.nbcnews.com/news/asian-america/anti-asian-hate-crimes-rose-73-last-year-updated-fbi-data-says-rcna3741
- Video from the Los Angeles Times: Epidemic of Hate: Asian Xenophobia and Coronavirus, February 3, 2020 [7:55] https://youtu.be/7nlenypkMww [7:55] and the accompanying article Suhuana Hassan, “Fear of coronavirus fuels racist sentiment targeting Asians, Los Angeles Times, February 3, 2020. https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Z4iu--gthgMAwX2iuQdjeCkrGDwqvmTx/view?usp=sharing
- Article and video: Erin Donaghue, “2,120 Hate Incidents Against Asian Americans Reported During Coronavirus Pandemic,” CBS News, July 2, 2020 https://www.cbsnews.com/news/anti-asian-american-hate-incidents-up-racism/
The former President repeatedly referred to it as the “China virus” or the “Asian flu.” Insofar as we first became aware of a COVID-19 in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, that association has regrettably stuck for many Americans. And what COVID has unleashed, not only in the United States but in far-flung places around the world, is anti-Chinese vitriol and, because of the long history of Asian interchangeability by non-Asians, anti-Asian views more broadly.
Xenophobia directed at Asians isn’t new, as we will see this week in class. What COVID has inspired is just the latest in a long history of anti-Asian hate.
President Biden signed S.937, the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), in May 2021. At the signing ceremony, Biden spoke eloquently of the “why” behind the legislation:
“We heard how too many Asian Americans have been waking up each morning this past year genuinely — genuinely — fearing for their safety just opening the door and walking down the street, and safety for their loved ones. The moms and dads who, when they let their kids out the door to go to school, were worried.
Attacked, blamed, scapegoated, harassed during this pandemic. Living in fear for their lives, as I said, just walking down street.
Grandparents afraid to leave their homes even to get vaccinated, for fear of being attacked.
Small business owners targeted and gunned down.
Students worried about two things: COVID-19 and being bullied.
Documented incidents of hate against Asian Americans have seen a shocking spike — as the Vice President has outlined at the front of her comments. Let alone — let alone the ones that have never been reported.
Gut-wrenching attacks on some of the most vulnerable people in our nation — the elderly, low-wage workers, women — brutally attacked simply by walking outside or waiting for a bus. Asian American women suffer twice as many incidents of harassment and violence as Asian American men.
And the conversation we had in Atlanta is one we’re hearing all across the country, that all of this hate hides in plain sight — it hides in plain sight — and too often, it is met with silence: silence by the media, silence by our politics, and silence by our history.
For centuries, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders — diverse and vibrant communities — have helped build this nation only to be often stepped over, forgotten, or ignored. You know, lived here for generations, but still considered, by some, the “other” — the “other.” It’s wrong. It’s simply — to use the phrase — it’s simply un-American.
My message to all of those of you who are hurting is: We see you. And the Congress has said: We see you. And we are committed to stop the hatred and the bias.”
The Asian and Pacific Islander (AAPI) population in the United States, according to the US Census (as of 2020), is believed to number approximately 20 million people, roughly 7.7% of the total population in the nation. It constitutes the fastest growing population in the United States. According to the Pew Research Center, Asian-Americans constitute the “highest-income, best-educated and fastest-growing racial group in the United States.”
So many non-Asians can’t distinguish among Asians and Pacific Islanders—witness Valerie Soh’s keenly observed short All Orientals Look the Same [pointedly using the pejorative term, “Orientals”] so they lump AAPI all together. Not unlike the Native American voices we heard who wish that we would identify Native peoples by their tribes and not label them all “native” or “indigenous,” many Asians/Pacific Islanders too wish people would acknowledge their specific places of origin, their differing circumstances, cultures, and histories, and not simply assume that “sameness.”
We know that Asians/Pacific Islanders have been the target of dismissive language; think of the episode last fall when then Boston School Committee chair, Michael Loconto, was caught on tape (in fall 2020) mocking Asian names. And they have been the target of growing violence—think most especially of the killings of Asian women at spas in Atlanta in spring 2021.
So why the hate? Why is this hate not new but is based in a long history of anti-Asian discrimination? And why are most non-Asians—and some Asians--minimally aware of this history?
Maybe those are foolish questions. What we know from our work on discrimination and othering thus far is that issues of “us” and “them,” “superiority” and “inferiority,” the desire to identify an “in group” and an “out group” govern much of human interaction.
How have Asians/Pacific Islanders—who we already know are classified as “white” when it’s convenient (think of the example of the Boston School Committee) and are also classified as “other” or “POC”—confronted this othering? The latest version may be triggered by COVID but we know this has a long and sordid history. And what should non-Asians do today to be allies in response to what these articles and the video clips chronicle?
Please weigh in on these questions in a thoughtful, well-supported post, supported by what you learned from class, from the readings and from what you know from your own experiences. And please do post a question for the next person to post (and respond to the question posed prior to your posting!).