Will Racism against Asians in the wake of the pandemic make America great again?
A burly white man kicked a 65-year-old Asian woman from behind to the ground in broad daylight and repeatedly kicked her in the head once she was on the ground. Instead of stopping the woman, staff at a hotel where she fell just feet away locked the door. This is what happened in Manhattan, New York, in the “center of the world” in 2021.
It’s just a snapshot of the violent attacks on Asian-Americans this year. Hostility toward Asians in the U.S. has been rising since the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020. A spate of violent attacks on Asian-Americans across the COUNTRY shows that Asian faces have become the most vulnerable targets for violence in public places.
In San Francisco, Calif., an 84-year-old Thai immigrant died after being attacked from behind and pushed to the ground by a passerby during a morning walk. In Oakland, California, a 91-year-old Asian man was pushed from behind to the side of the road by a passer-by. In San Francisco, California, two Asian women, aged 85 and 65, were stabbed by an unknown man with a sharp knife while waiting for a bus at a bus stop. Also in San Francisco, an Asian man pushing a stroller was punched on the head and back in the street for no apparent reason; In Brooklyn, New York, an 89-year-old Chinese woman was killed on the street, two strangers slapped them before their shirts were set alight. On a New York subway, a passer-by slashed the face of an Asian-American man with handmade scissors. In New York’s Times Square, two Asian women were hit in the head with a hammer by a passer-by and asked to take off their masks. Asian communities are being blamed for the coronavirus outbreak of attacks on Asian-Americans across the country.
In a meeting with reporters in March, an F.B.I. official declined to give statistics on anti-Asian crimes but acknowledged that there had been an increase in such cases over the past few years. In the past year, more than 6,600 anti-Asian Hate incidents have been recorded in the United States, according to the nonprofit Stop API Hate, and the number is growing this year.
Just a few months ago, our former president Trump was deliberately using “Chinese virus” to refer to the Novel coronavirus. Last year, a photo of Trump at a press conference revealed by the media clearly showed Trump crossing out the word corona in his notebook and writing the Chinese word by hand. Trump repeatedly used the anti-Asian insult “China virus” and tried to link the Novel Coronavirus to China. The misphrasing of “China virus” which is deeply racist, undoubtedly points to the Asian-American community as the disseminator of the virus.
As an Asian living in New York City, I have a profound sense of how attitudes toward Asians in the United States have changed in the two years since the outbreak of COVID-19. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, it has been common to see People of Asian descent being attacked on the street without provocation smell. I was nervous every time l went out, and l was constantly looking around for fear of an attacker coming from around a corner or from behind me.
I seem to be paranoid and try not to speak with my accent when I’m out talking to strangers. I’m very worried that my less-than-perfect American accent will make me a target. l became so sensitive that when l was in contact with white people, I would pay special attention to the reaction of the other person, a subtle look, an almost imperceptible tone of voice, would be magnified several times to guess whether the other person is hostile to me. The topic of discussion with my Asian friends is whether to carry pepper spray and a taser to protect yourself. More and more Asian friends are buying and carrying personal defense items. For me personally, carrying pepper spray outside the house has become as much a part of my daily routine as carrying my keys, phone and hand sanitizer. Now l have to wear a hat, mask and sunglasses to work every day, trying not to cause trouble by making my Asian identity instantly apparent. Even so, every time I take the subway, in the closed subway car, l feel like a pain in the back, I can feel people’s hostile eyes towards me. As I was getting on and off the subway car, l could definitely feel someone shouldering me. As a result, I had to cut down on unnecessary outings, and even after the vaccination, even as the city gradually lifted restrictions, I still couldn’t walk in the park with friends or meet up with friends at a sidewalk coffee shop like l used to. It’s just that my biggest fear right now isn’t novel coronavirus, it’s my skin color’s potential annihilation. It’s hard to imagine that in America, a country that prides itself on freedom and democracy, Asian people like me live in a room every day in despair and fear.
Racism against blacks in the United States has deep social roots while racism against Asians is often consciously ignored by American society. The racial discrimination against Asians in American society has a long history and has penetrated the bone marrow of American culture. Hatred of The Asian community has already permeated virtually every aspect of American society. As early as 1882, the United States signed the Chinese Exclusion Act to ensure that white people would not lose jobs to yellow people. It was the first and only act in the United States to prohibit the immigration of people of a certain nationality. The Chinese virtues of hard working, diligence and assiduity have become their “original sin” in the United States, a land that claims freedom and democracy. In modern times, yellow-skinned, black-haired Asian scientists are “of great interest” to the United States government because white people suspect them of spying for China, even though many of them were born and raised in the United States and have never been to China in their lives. Even in American movies today, Asian characters are always sneaky, advantage taking, dishonest opportunists. In the eyes of white people, Asians will always be marginalized, will never truly integrate into the mainstream American society, and will always be the enemy that white people need to guard against. Through such long-term cultural promotion of Asian stereotypes, American society has become accustomed to racial discrimination against Asians, and even deliberately ignores the pain we suffer as a result. When he was our former president, he used “China virus” to stir up racial hatred. The problem of race in America, at the end of the day, is white supremacy. The gap between White and Asian, African and other Americans is timeless. Instead, the racial divide seems increasingly insurmountable under the epidemic. If you are not Taiwanese, you do not belong to this land and you should get out of America.
Having lived in the United States for so many years, I can deeply understand the importance Americans attach to integrity. However, after experiencing this epidemic, I feel that the so-called freedom and democracy in the United States are total lies. American hypocrisy of freedom, democracy is just a tool to serve white people. As an Asian living in the United States, living in fear every day, this suffocating feeling is definitely not true democracy and freedom. What makes me even more desperate is that there is no prospect of this changing in the future. White people used to use “Chink” to insult Asian businessmen, now there is a “China virus”, what will be next? Mr. Trump campaigned on the slogan “Make America great again”.
Similarly, we Chinese also have an old saying “Unity is strength”. In today’s United States, society is torn apart by racial hatred. Without unity, there is no strength. So “Make America great again”, like American freedom and democracy, is just another false lie.
Many years ago, I left my own country and came to the United States in pursuit of the so-called equality and freedom in America. I never thought of giving up, even though life in America was not so smooth. Lately, though, I’ve been asking myself whether it’s really time to leave the United States.