Take a Stand with me Against Asian Hate Crimes

I recently changed my hairstyle, well actually my hair color, due to Covid. After all, I’ve had grey since my twenties, and since Covid there have been fewer reasons to color it — no access to salons, no in person meetings and the mess of DIY hair color. I decided to go au natural. My hair is no longer black; to everyone’s surprise, including me, it’s now quite silver. I’ve heard silver hair is trendy, so I’ve become accidentally fashionable.

This story, however, is not to relay my new fashion sense. My hair color defies my age. Let’s put it this way, I am not old enough to be first in line for the COVID-19 vaccine. But the color now makes me feel more vulnerable. Silver is easily spotted on the street and implies that I’m older and, therefore, an easy mark. What’s worse, it’s compounding another fear of being targeted — because I’m Asian.

Violence against Asians

This is a feeling I’ve only experienced periodically depending on where I was living, but never in the Bay Area, until now. Since former President Trump’s xenophobic comments during the early stages of the pandemic, violence against Asians has surged by 150%, — perhaps higher, as Asians historically do not report such incidents. People have been seriously injured and murdered.  These attacks must be stopped.

In response, the Oakland Chinatown Coalition recently held a Zoom meeting, where over 275 people attended this last-minute meeting. While I watched the faces in the rows of rectangles across my screen, my eyes started to tear because I was so proud to see so many young people who cared enough to show up and speak up.

It reminded me of my radical activist days in San Francisco, when we protested to push forward ethnic studies, anti-redevelopment and many other social justice issues. But that was years ago; why haven’t we moved forward? Why is this happening again?

Historically, when there’s an economic downturn or the nation is in crisis, minority groups become scapegoats — like the Chinese Exclusion Act , or when Vincent Chin was killed, or the Japanese American Internment during World War II when my father was interned. My father, although he was born in the United States and an American citizen, was herded up from his family’s California home and grocery store to be imprisoned in a camp in desolate Poston, Arizona because he was of Japanese ancestry.

In retrospect, African Americans have been dealing with violence through centuries, and they too are asking the same questions as we are. I admire their early pioneer activists, who after all had to fight for their life and limb. They’ve come so far but have lost so much during the journey and they too have a way to go.

Asians making a difference

What then must change to prevent history from repeating itself for Asians? For one, I applaud people like Rise CEO and Founder, Amanda Nguyen; reporter Weija Jiang, athlete Jeremy Lin and actors David Wu and Daniel Dae Kim, along with many other activists who are speaking up and bringing attention to this issue. That’s right, speak up. If you are Asian, understand that the model minority is a myth and a tactic to pit ethnic and minority groups against each other. If you are non-Asian, join communities of people who are talking, listening and working together to bring attention to this wave of hate and violence. Join community group efforts, volunteer to escort seniors and help build coalitions.

Finally, if you see a hate crime being committed or are attacked yourself, report it at stopaaphihate.org. Learn more from this Los Angeles Area booklet: How to Report a Hate Crime. Anyone can take an active stance, help report, donate and learn by following outlets like Nextshark or your local ethnic or cultural community sites. Here are more resources.

I believe anyone and everyone can — and should — take a stand against hate.