Pamela Cruz. Peninsula 360 Press.
The number of aggressions towards the Asian-American community in the U.S. has grown suddenly, after President Donald Trump has maintained a negative discourse on China, so that the number of incidents reached more than 2,700 in the last six months, when in previous years only 100 cases were recorded.
This was stated by Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asia-Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON), who pointed out that this increase followed hate speech by President Trump as soon as COVID-19 arrived on these shores.
The activist and lawyer also pointed out that the discourse has shifted from political and economic issues to health issues, and by blaming the country for creating and hiding the virus, it has led to racist incidents or even hate crimes against Asian people or people of Asian origin.
During a virtual meeting organized by Ethnic Media Services, entitled "The Contagion of Hate. America's other virus", the expert pointed out that, of the 2,700 cases reported, most are incidents and not hate crimes.
These incidents, he said, were reported in 46 states and the District of Columbia, with 56% of the cases occurring in California and New York.
It also pointed out that women in this community experience 2.3 times more hate incidents than men, and 7.0% is against people over 60 years of age.
Kulkarni reported that 70.9% of incidents involved verbal harassment, 8.8% involved physical harassment, and 10% involved civil rights violations such as workplace discrimination and denial of services, among others.
While the ethnicity with the highest number of attacks was Chinese (40.8%), followed by Korean (15.4%).
The places where discrimination is most experienced are varied, however, the surveys revealed that the highest number of cases (38.6%) occur in businesses such as stores, pharmacies, and restaurants, followed by public streets and sidewalks (21.0%), public parks (11.1%), Internet (10.4%), private residences (9.5%), public transportation (9.2%), schools (3.6%), and universities (2.0%).
The rhetoric in these incidents encompasses a virulent antipathy toward Chinese Americans, as 60% involve profanity and verbal taunts; while 23% of the perpetrators blame China and its population as the source of COVID-19.
The activist pointed out that there is an anti-immigrant nationalism, as in 19% of the occasions that these hate incidents took place, the Asian-American victims were demanded to "go back to China".
Similarly, he said that there is a racist characterization because in 18% out of 789 incidents, perpetuators described China and its people as dirty, sick and having strange eating habits.
In 14% of the cases, there were racial slurs with words that were extremely insulting to the Asian-American community, calling them with words such as "chinks" or "chinaman".
Given the rhetoric of discrimination that exists in the world and an increase in supremacist groups, Manjusha Kulkarni considered that this hate violence against the Asian-American community could continue to be experienced for a decade.
For his part, Jhonatan Yang, executive director of the organization Asian American Advancing Justice, emphasized that the extremism currently being experienced in the U.S. against Asian-Americans is not a new issue, as it has always been an issue that has had to be dealt with, however, currently the president's speech has caused clashes even between different communities.
He added that hate speech has consequences due to the violent extremism that exists, as there have even been death threats to people in the community or to those who defend them.
However, he said, not only this ethnic group, but everyone should be empowered so that there is support that can truly confront the hate speech that prevails in the country, especially in these times when we are facing a pandemic, a situation that is coupled with an election year.
In that sense, he invited to be part of those who protect others who are more vulnerable when they observe that they are being victims of harassment, such as accompanying them to a safe place or to the next station if the aggression occurs on the train or any public transportation.
In addition, if possible, put a verbal stop to those who are attacking or generating hate speech against a person, or generate some distraction that allows the victim to move away from the place where he/she is attacked.
"These types of actions (exacerbated violence against the Asian-American community) we will see over the next few weeks, and even if (Joe) Biden wins they are not going to go away anytime soon. We can't let our guard down even though there may be a political change in the presidency," he added.
For Neil Ruiz, associate director of global migration and demographics at the Pew Research Center, noted that, according to a study conducted by that research center, four in 10 Americans believe it is now more common for people to express racist views about Asian people than it was before COVID-19.
He added that Asian American and African American communities, more than any other ethnic group, have reported negative experiences due to their race since the coronavirus outbreak.
The survey, he commented, shows that "about half of Americans believe that President Donald Trump has made race relations worse."
Former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent Michael German said that during the current administration there has been an escalation in the number of supremacist organizations, however, there are no numbers because no investigations have been conducted.
However, he said, members of these supremacist groups have infiltrated police departments in several states, and today serve as officers, "that is why many do not trust the authorities".