Since the beginning of the pandemic, anti-Asian and xenophobic hate speech and crimes have increased drastically. Many politicians and media coverings have only fueled this discrimination and hatred. For example, Donald Trump referred to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus” which caused hatred to spread in the U.S. Additionally, activist groups have noticed a spark in anti-Asian hate crimes, hate speech, and bullying in Russia, Australia, Italy, France, Africa, the UK, the US and more. Leaders around the world have used the pandemic to justify these horrific acts of discrimination. These acts are often violent, and such leaders are rarely held accountable. Citizens need to strongly encourage people in power to develop specific action plans while outwardly condoning public hate, donating to Asian owned businesses, and writing letters to public officials in order to combat this oppression.
On March 16, a shooting occurred in an Atlanta day spa. Eight people died and this shooting is widely recognized by the public to be a hate crime. However, many media outlets and authoritative figures refuse to acknowledge this crime as racially motivated. Six out of the eight people who died are Asian women which shows us the intersection between Asian bias and “male supremacy terrorism.” This crime follows a pattern of behavior that has increased during the pandemic. The New York Times states that “Asian-Americans [have been] targeted in nearly 3,800 hate incidents in the past year.” Since COVID-19, the amount of U.S. Asian-American discrimination and hate crimes has dramatically increased.
Additionally, Asian Americans are three times less likely to seek therapy or other forms of mental health help than white Americans (American Psychological Association) and Asian Americans have a much higher chance of developing a mental health disorder in their lifetime. This is attributed to the fact that in many Asian cultures, it is frowned upon to discuss mental health or to seek help. This creates a stigma in which people tend to deny and repress their symptoms. This is also due to a lack of normalization of mental illness in America which creates a taboo and prevents people from seeking help because they believe it is unnecessary. Mental health and fear among this group has only worsened due to discrimination especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We can take action by reading articles, listening to podcasts, donating, and signing petitions. The podcast Self Evident shows us how to take action during the pandemic and confronts the realities of Anti-Asian discrimination in our country. We must be wary of bias and prejudice in the media when reading articles and watching the news. The majority of of Northwest international students come from countries in Asia, which is why we must recognize the discrimination and outcasting occurring in our own school. We have a responsibility to call out the behavior of our peers and to speak against injustice occurring in our community. In addition to racism occurring at Northwest, students must be prepared to speak out against prejudice happening elsewhere and dismiss the role of being a bystander.