A Chinese man was walking back home after a long exhausting day through the side streets of Chinatown, Manhattan. A strange person abruptly overshadows him from the back, and suddenly an 8-inch knife was plunged into the 36-year old’s back.
This is not a description of any mystery crime movie, but a real incident that took place on 25th February this year. And what’s more staggering is that despite being a heart-wrenching incident, the stabbing was not unusual for the locals.
The mass shooting and murdering of four Asian-Americans in Atlanta have been in the headline for the last few days arising the question; what is driving the hatred against the Asian-American community in America? Why is the US failing in bridging socio-cultural gaps between the Asian and American communities? And what can be done to stop the escalating Xenophobia?
What is driving the Asian-Americans hatred in the US?
The US and China are global rivals and stand against each other on various grounds. Tensions over human rights, a dispute over trade and territory of the South China Sea have been escalating between the two superpowers. This unfavourable opinion is as common in the Democrats as in Republicans.
But in recent times, these negative sentiments are rooting in the citizens, and have spiked unimaginable consequences. There have been mass killings of targeted communities before in America; but most of them took place at a time when attacks and mass shooting was already on rising in general.
The cases of violence against the Asian community have been exponential plunging especially since the beginning of the pandemic. The origin of COVID coupled with misinformation about the virus on various social media platforms is believed to the driving factor behind the surge of Xenophobia.
Furthermore, the former US president, Donal Trump, almost every time referred to the coronavirus as ‘a Chinese virus’; thus further deepening the country’s long history of justifying anti-Asian Xenophobia, which can be dated back to the 19th and 20th centuries. This to some extent helped in painting the picture of Asian-Americans as ‘Perpetual Foreigners’ to America.
Escalating attack on Asian-Americans
A 64-year-old Vietnamese woman was first assaulted and then robbed in San Jose, Calif. Physical abuse of a 61-year old Filipino man on a subway of New York City; 84-year old Vicha Ratanapakdee, violently thrown to the ground while taking his morning walk; the incident cause death of the elderly. This list is ever-increasing and endless.
According to NYPD’s report on hate-driven crime against Asians have raised by more than 1900% just in 2020. For sake of controlling the increasing targeted violence, a reporting database (Stop AAPI Hate) was created at the dawn of the pandemic. In just less than 10-months, more than 2,800 anti-Asian hatred triggered violence cases were reported.
In the pandemic year, Asian-Americans were already suffering because of the increased racism attacks; when eight victims, mostly of Asian descent, were shot dead by a white gunman in Atlanta.
How did the Asian-American community respond?
Rights activists have been trying to bring the escalating violence against the Asian community to the public eye for a long, but the Atlanta shooting incidents have flamed the sparking rage and now the entire US is protesting against intensifying Xenophobia.
With sadness, fear, and hopelessness choking their throat; the anger burst out on social media. #StopAsianHate stayed the top trending hashtag on Twitter for hours.
Vicente Reid, CEO of the Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce is planning for a vigil in Mesa’s Phoenix suburb, an area with a high concentration of Asian-American population; in the wake of the petrified local community post the slaying.
Mr Vincent Reid says; “I think there is this whole outlet of this younger generation who’s passionate and has the energy. They just need someone to step up and lead them.”
What can the US government do to control the situation?
Experts believe that Trumps‘ rhetoric has encouraged some Americans to publicly express their anti-Asian and anti-immigrant sentiments.
It is very highly unlikely that the Biden administration will try to tamp down the tension between America and China; just for obstructing the fuelling Xenophobia. But instead, the government should try to explicitly tells the Americans not to amalgamate the country’s cold war with China with the Asian-Americans community.
Nikki Fortunato Bas, president of Oakland City Council have called out for solidarity amongst the coloured community or increase policing as a solution to the increasing targeted violence.
Strict action against the attackers can help mellow down the situation. But, experts believe that a long-term strategy will be needed to reduce the anti-Asian sentiments. Asian-Americans are no more a minority community in the US, the government need to highlight their presence in a positive light and identify them as an explicit part of the country.