Over the past few weeks a number of rallies have been held across the USA from West Coast to East Coast in fighting and spreading awareness that the anti-Asian hate happening in the USA is not acceptable and that Asian Americans and allies are against it. Videos have emerged over the last few months of elderly Asian Americans being physically attacked in the street with at least 2 deaths resulting from this. In addition, there have been other violent attacks against Americans of Asian descent. A 91 year old man died of his injuries being pushed to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown, 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee was taking a morning walk and was smashed to the ground for no reason at all and he too died from his injuries. A 52 year old Asian American woman was shot in the head with a flare gun in Oakland’s Chinatown, and an elderly Asian American man was attacked by 3 youths outside a laundromat in San Francisco’s Chinatown. And these are the cases which were caught on video as there have been many more similar style attacks against Asian Americans due to negative stereotypes, hate and racism.
In more recent and tragic news, 6 Asian American women were shot dead in Atlanta area spas in 3 separate shootings. 21 year old Robert Aaron Long has been arrested and charged with at least 4 of the murders. This particular tragedy, racism has not been attributed as the reason for the shootings, but let’s face it, more likely than none this shooting was motivated by racism. However, the Georgia Sherriff spokesperson Capt. Jay Baker has stated at a press conference that Long:
“was pretty much fed up and kind of at the end of his rope” and that Tuesday “was a really bad day for him, and this is what he did.”
Not surprising considering Baker himself is a racist and has come under fire for posts he made on social media promoting anti Asian hate and t-shirts and blamed the pandemic on “Chy-na”. These posts have since been removed. When I heard about the shootings in Atlanta I was filled with anger and sadness. 6 Asian women have lost their lives. Asian women are subjected to sexualised stereotypes and I firmly believe these stereotypes painted the story of their deaths. Long needs to be adequately prosecuted with a number of hate crimes thrown in.
What all this demonstrates is that America is in a state of dramatic decline with major breakdowns in race dynamics – though one can argue this decline and breakdown of racial dynamics has been existent for centuries. It shows that for Asians, it is no longer a “safe country” nor is it the “land of opportunity” as it was once touted as. The STOP AAPI Hate campaign has reported that there has been 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents over the past year with the majority of incidents reported by Asian American women. This is a very concerning statistic, and one which should not be taken lightly.
But how does all this affect us Asian Australians considering the US is worlds away from us? Well, one thing we all need to remember is that Australia is a major consumer of American TV, news and politics – what happens in America somehow manifests itself into Australian society. COVID-19 racism has greatly affected Asian Australians, with many incidents extremely verbally aggressive, traumatising and violent in nature. The Asian Australia Alliance in collaboration with Osmond Chiu, launched a COVID-19 Racism Incident Report Survey similar to that of STOP AAPI Hate, and over the past year has recorded almost 515 racism incidents in Australia, with the majority being Asian Australian women. This pretty much mirrors the results from STOP AAPI Hate in terms of Asian women being the primary target. Both countries have seen attacks which are horrific in nature and the Asian diaspora in both countries are scared to go out to do their normal daily things.
In Australia, the Prime Minister and other senior Government ministers have not adequately addressed the anti-Asian hate issue. Yes, some public statements have been made in passing, but that is not enough. There hasn’t been a strong condemnation coming from the top and this is where the problem lies. Instead, the Australian Government is on the attack on “China” and not thinking nor caring what they say and do will cause major racial backlash against the Asian community in Australia. They have essentially normalised and enabled the racism to happen, and those who have racist intentions or live in pure ignorance are now acting on this hate – loudly and proudly.
Of course the USA is a “bit more” crazier than Australia, but the racism and violent attack situations are similar. Just yesterday the Race Discrimination Commissioner Chin Tan, announced an anti-racism framework to be launched to coincide with the international day against racial discrimination. The idea is to have some sort of centralised anti-racism tracking system – which is in all respects is a great idea and a step in the right direction. The test will come on the consultation process on how this will look like and how this framework will be executed.
In the USA, within the first 10 days of Joe Biden becoming President, he signed an Executive Order strongly condemning the anti-Asian racism and the state of California passed legislation to put in 1.4 million USD to track anti Asian hate crimes. Let’s hope the anti-Asian framework announced by the Race Discrimination Commissioner will be a step in the right direction. Just a wait and see game I guess…
As for all those who have died amidst this global racism pandemic, our thoughts are with you and to the victims of the Atlanta spa and massage parlours shootings, our thoughts are with the victims, families and friends. May the “so-called” American justice system do what it claims to do and that the perpetrator of this shooting and the perpetrators of other anti Asian attacks everywhere will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the laws.
Header image via James Kong