Question: why do you think people so easily buy into this hateful rehtoric, even though its obvious that most Asian-Americans have nothing to do with the virus?
An Answer: Humans will believe any lie, however false, if it justifies being lazy. Being uneducated and following in the footsteps of the mass is always preferable, and drastically easier, to thinking for oneself, being politically present in your government, and making personal improvements on one's mentality. It doesn't help that the proliferators of such derisive and hateful dogma are charismatic, tyrannical, and violent, making it even harder to have an original thought or to contradict the viewpoints of the group. Not to mention that such groups have taken up positions in the highest echelons of state and government, making it even harder to ignore. [Our previous president, the highest executive power in the United States (and arguably the world) proliferated hateful dogma. let that sink in...]
It also certainly doesn't help that most major media outlets and online content puts on a veneer of goodwill, whilst behind the viewer's backs contributes to such a hateful group, and such dogmatic content is being proliferated in gargantuan numbers and propagandized by corporations and governments. Peace and prosperity don't make profit either, hate and derisiveness and polarization make more money for the greedy corporations that flourished in the information age.
- Why the hate? And 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?
As far back as the invention of organized society in the Mesopotamian river valleys of the middle east, humans have discriminated against “us” as “them”. Whether it be landowner versus farmer, slave versus slaveholder, whether one's skin has more or less melanin than another, taller or shorter, that tribe or this clan, humans have, for as long as society has been incorporated into our lives, distinguished worth and power, right or wrong, based on this deeply flawed and ethically dubious division of an “us” and “them”. Fast-forward 8,000 years later, and we have modern man using the same methods to discriminate against the “us” and a “them” in a country where, ironically, it was founded by the persecuted, seeking independence from a tyrannical government. We may be taking up that mantle left by the British Empire in that regard. Through active, unfair, intolerant treatment undertaken by modern society, particularly the United States, through treating other people's differently because of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, or other characteristics. American discrimination against Asian Americans, therefore, is an extension of this national, and global, trend. Retracing that previous claim through ~8000 years of human history, we can start to piece together the ‘why’ regarding why America has such an avid hatred towards the “other” or the “them”.
We can start our reparations process by looking at Asian Americans. Focusing in on Asians in particular, after reading 4 articles, written by academic experts on fields such as prejudice, Asian American history, and history as a whole (among many other distinctions) one can start to develop an understanding, and start to focus and dilate one's perspective in order to get a fuller “picture” of what exactly spawns and proliferates such hatred.
Asian Americans have faced hate and discrimination in the United States for a significantly long time. This is not a new phenomenon but is the result of a long history of anti-Asian sentiment in The United States.
One of the earliest examples of this is the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which, as discussed at-length in-class, effectively barred Chinese immigrants from entering the United States and fully denied them citizenship, both congressionally and later constitutionally. This legislation was motivated by fears of job competition and xenophobia towards the Chinese community. In addition, Asian Americans have faced violence and discrimination during times of war, such as the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and, more recently, the persecution of Vietnamese Americans during the Vietnam War. More recently, hate crimes and discrimination against Asian Americans have been on the rise, with incidents ranging from verbal harassment to physical assault. These instances of hate and discrimination are fueled by a variety of factors, including xenophobia, racism, and prejudice. This all ties into the discrimination faced even more recently during the Covid-19 pandemic, where such festering hatred has been rebirthed and given a new light, disguising itself through relatively mundane mediums, such as online chat rooms and internet socialization threads, breeding-places for such despicable rhetoric and dogma to be created and proliferated en-mass.
One thing, however, is certain. Humanity, as a species and as an advanced and learned branch of the genus Homo, cannot continue to illogically, unjustly, and unethically persecute and despise others based on false arbitrary elements of one’s life. In order to progress as a species, we must unite our peoples as do away with the multitude of divisions and discriminatory vices that plague our progress and advancements, hinder our collaboration, and stain our just nature as humans. To put it simply, the words of acclaimed UC Berkley professor John A. Powell, as presented in an article published by Berkley News, says it most succinctly: “Sometimes they’re Muslim, sometimes they’re black, sometimes they’re Mexican, sometimes they’re Asian…But there is no them. There’s only us, and we have to figure out how to go forward where everybody belongs, and nobody dominates. Not blacks, not whites, not Christians, not Muslims. No group dominates.”
- How have Asians—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.
Asian Americans have confronted the discrimination and "othering" they face in a number of ways, including through activism and advocacy. This can include participating in protests and direct action, sharing personal stories and experiences, and using media and social media to amplify their message. Many Asian American organizations and advocacy groups have also worked to raise awareness about the issues facing their communities and to lobby for policy changes.
An example of activism in Massachusetts is the Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC). Founded in 1969, BCNC has worked to empower the Asian American community in Boston through a variety of services, programs, and outreach services, including education, workforce development, and civic engagement. The organization has also been active in advocating for policies that benefit the Asian American community, such as language access and immigrant rights. BCNC has played a crucial role in supporting and uplifting the Asian American community in Boston and beyond and continues to be an important voice for social justice and equity.
It was also a common trend noticed in the articles just how important the internet was in Asian American communities’ activism efforts. Asian Americans have used their voices to speak out about their experiences with discrimination and to challenge the narratives that contribute to their "othering." This can include sharing personal stories and experiences, participating in protests and other forms of direct action, and using social media and other forms of media to amplify their message. Many Asian Americans have also sought to educate others about their cultural histories and traditions, as a way of promoting understanding and challenging negative stereotypes. These communities continue to use online social apps to empower their members and others through self-determination and self-representation, via educational videos, infographics, and livestreams. This can also include supporting and promoting businesses and organizations that are owned and operated by Asian Americans, as well as seeking out and creating spaces where Asian American voices and perspectives are valued and celebrated.
- What should Asians as well as non-Asians do today to be allies in response to what these articles and the video clips chronicle?
As stated in my first paragraph, the sooner we realize that we are all one-in-the-same, and the sooner we cast aside our own personal prejudices and biases, the sooner we can rally humanity to solve this problem and the numerous others that plague our species. An added bonus of that is that it will be accomplished in a drastically accelerated timeframe, as we have more manpower to work on such solutions. We can continue to be allies to everyone, particularly marginalized communities like Asian Americans, by reporting harmful messages on online discussion platforms, and spreading positivity and uplifting messages. We can set an example for others.
My Question to the following person: Knowing our limited scope of influence in our country, and being legal minors, how would you utilize our limited power to make meaningful changes to the flawed governmental order and structure we live under today in the United States? Do we even have any power at all, or is our power there but we have never properly utilized it?