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The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

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April 7, 2024

Discrimination and Xenophobia Run Rampant as Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans Skyrocket

By Alexandra Fadel
Staff Writer

Asian-Americans are being targeted in the United States. A recent mass shooting left 6 dead, and America still has not accepted there might be a racial motivation behind these acts.

On Wednesday, March 16th 2021, a 21 year-old white man was identified as the lead suspect in multiple shootings of three Asian-owned massage parlors in the Atlanta area. Of the eight victims, six were women of Asian descent. Although the attacks have not been confirmed as racially-motivated, many still believe this due to the overwhelming rise in the number of hate crimes against Asian-Americans in the United States. This trend made recent events not surprising and just as devastating for the Asian community.

“When it first happened, I don’t think I processed the weight of the event,” said Asian-American DASH senior Nicole Nedeff via text-message. “This past weekend though, it did hit me and I cried. I cried for the Asian women that died, for their families and for myself.” 

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Community members leave offerings for the victims of the Atlanta shootings. (Photo by Bita Honarvar/Reuters)

“The truth is, I’m scared right now, but mostly for my family. I guess I’ve always carried some sort of fear with me because of my race, but never to this extent before.”

In response to the shootings, Captain Jay Baker of the Cherokee County Sheriff’s office said on March 16th that “yesterday was a really bad day for him and this is what he did,” a comment that garnered frustrated responses from the general public. 

“That wasn’t a ‘bad day.’ That was a massacre,” wrote Asian-American Senator Tammy Duckworth in a tweet.

The alleged perpetrator says his attacks were not racially motivated, but rather done to eliminate the temptations affecting his “sex addiction.” These women were his “temptations”, likely reinforcing the dangerous stereotype prevalent in the United States and internationally: Asian women (East-Asian, mostly) as weak, docile objects of attraction for men.  

“The fact that he has to target Asians, specifically Asian women, is more than enough evidence to show that it is a hate crime,” wrote senior Ashley Muñoz via text-message. “These people that excuse his behavior because he is white, as well as the suspect, are repulsing.”

The roots of discrimination against people of Asian descent in the United States go back centuries, and are a part of history all Americans should be more aware of.

“I think considering the history of anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S. is imperative,” said Nedeff. “Part of the reason racism against us is often overlooked or dismissed is because of the lack of education.”

Asian history in the US is hallmarked by countless policies and events that make clear just how much trauma and intolerance these groups have endured over the years.

“The fact that the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first ever law to ban a specific race/ethnicity from immigrating to the US is rarely mentioned,” said Nedeff. “The Japanese concentration camps that removed many American citizens from their own homes are not talked about enough.”

Hate crimes such as the Atlanta shootings are not news to Asian-Americans, who have been dealing with the repercussions of past tragedies that date back to the 1800s. 

The shootings have been labeled events in a string of “incidents,” completely undermining the racially-charged motivations of these hate crimes and many others. Recent attacks towards Asian-American elders have also heightened fears within the community, making this event even more damaging. In the past year, there have been almost 3,800 reported hate crimes against Asian-Americans since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Stop AAPI Hate national report.

Protestors walk the streets after a recent spike inanti-Asian hate crimes. (Photo courtesy of Time Magazine) 

“I have had racist experiences in Miami during the beginning of Asian hate crimes. It was scary to go out because of the way that I look,” wrote Muñoz.

Muñoz grew up in Miami, and recounted some of her experiences living here as a half-Colombian and half-Japanese person. One time she was referred to as “chinita” in Dadeland Mall by staff, who also made her wait much longer than her white latinx friend. 

“Situations like this one kept happening in Miami and the majority of them came from Latinos,” wrote Muñoz.

Xenophobic remarks like ones Muñoz has heard directed at her are more common in Miami than people might think, often brushing them off as generational beliefs that should be taken lightly. 

“It is common and what I’ve experienced is racism,” said Nedeff. “I’m tired of people minimizing my own experiences and writing it off as ‘just a joke’ and being told that I’m taking it too seriously.”

Asian people have been the victims of these “jokes” their whole lives, and when these words are paired with physical violence, the problem at hand becomes much more apparent to everyone else.

Most of the recent anti-Asian sentiment has come from the idea of the pandemic being dubbed the “China Virus”. This was a term largely popularized by former president Donald Trump, who repeated it in multiple speeches and public statements. Captain Baker also echoed the same sentiment, apparent in his public advertising of a shirt with the term written on it.

“The term ‘China Virus’ has greatly influenced others to attack Asian-Americans because they think that every Asian person has the virus and that they’re all from China,” wrote Muñoz.

Cherokee Sheriff Frank Reynolds on Howard Jay Baker comments | 11alive.com
Captain Baker posts a shirt advertising the xenophobic “Chy-na Virus.” (Photo from of Facebook)

This blatant xenophobia has become ingrained into many societies in the United States, causing detrimental events such as those that have occurred recently. After such a long and disastrous record of hate crimes against Asian-Americans, the general public needs to become more attentive to the discrimination and hatred they face. 

“People need to learn that racism against Asians is real and it’s BEEN a problem. People need to trace back, learn and acknowledge the history of anti-Asian sentiment in this country,” said Nedeff. “I also want people to listen when I speak up for myself, instead of invalidating me. I don’t understand why that’s so hard for people to do.”

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Discrimination and Xenophobia Run Rampant as Hate Crimes Against Asian-Americans Skyrocket