Till we don't stop against racial hatred

Opinion. Anna Lee Mraz Bartra Peninsula 360 Press [P360P]
racial hatred

First they came for the socialists, and I didn't say anything?
because he was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't say anything? 
because he was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I said nothing?
because he was not a Jew.
Then they came for me...
and there was no one to say anything for me anymore.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

This work of art created in 1970 denounces the racial hatred against Asians that, to this day, continues to kill innocent people. 

It was a long time coming. It always starts the same way: a hurtful joke, a put-down, a negative connotation. Then come the insults, the humiliation. There were warning signs. The Asian community in the United States set off alarm bells.

There was a warning about the use of the "Kung Flu", the "China Virus", the "China plague" and the attacks began.

While in 2019 there were 49 reported hate crimes against Asians in the 16 major U.S. cities; between March and December 2020 there were 2808 hate crimes reported on the Stop AAPI Hate page, a site created by the Asian American Studies department at San Francisco State University in response to the escalating attacks against Asians. 

On February 27, 2021, during the walkout in protest of recent hate crimes, recounts Redwood City Councilman Jeff Gee during the March 22, 2021 council meeting, a car approached to roll down the window and yelled out F**k you against families with children marching in the street.

"He doesn't hide. It's crystal clear. The hatred and intensity directed at the group cannot be misinterpreted."

Jeff Gee, Redwood City Councilman. 

The artwork in question is by Liliana Porter. This piece hung on the wall in my parents' house and always impressed me. It is especially poignant because it takes the viewer from the macro to the micro, from the generic to the personal. She is You. She is Me. She is us. 

Anti-Asian racism is not new. It is the product of a historical construct that has been cemented by white American men against anyone who is different.

"Despite the important role that immigrants have played in the economy of the receiving countries, the rejection of this sector is constant in almost all migratory processes. Rejection towards this sector is a constant in almost all migratory processes. The rejection is greater against people whose ethnicity, language, religion or appearance is markedly different from the inhabitants of the place of destination".

Manuel Ortiz. 

The hatred of Asians began, according to historical documents, with the arrival of Chinese laborers for the construction of the railroads that connected the Union Pacific and Central Pacific to the town of Promotory, Utah in the period from 1860 to 1869. 

According to the work of Manuel Ortiz: "Once the union of the railroad stretches was finished, an ideology of rejection towards this population began to increase, mainly encouraged by the different North American power circles: legislators, big businessmen and the American Federation of Labor. They described the Chinese as depraved, vicious, bloodthirsty and inhuman. They were known as the Yellow Peril.

During World War II a deep anti-Japanese sentiment was catalyzed throughout the country through racist propaganda depicting the enemy as a dehumanized monster and "110,000 people of Japanese ancestry were imprisoned in concentration camps in the United States during World War II" as can be read in the article The ghost of Manzanar

The Vietnam War was another turning point in the structuring of anti-Asian racial hatred in the United States. According to Kathleen Belew in her book Bring the War Home: The White Power Movement and Paramilitary America; Wars abroad, like racial violence at home, are recurring - one might even say defining - features of American history, and Belew notes that spikes in domestic white supremacist terrorism have regularly followed the close of major military hostilities. 

"In contrast to earlier racist violence, a new stream of white militancy emerged after Vietnam? This new ideology proved so effective in attracting adherents and building coalitions that it can be considered a new social movement: white power. Beyond the attitudes and positions designated by the terms "white nationalism," "white supremacy," or even "racist right," "white power" came to represent something much more specific: a radical, well-organized movement of hard-core militants with a mission.

Patrick Blanchfield

This racial hatred spreads today through new ways - the socio-digital networks - more quickly, more effectively. A short video, a single image, a meme, a tweet is enough to generate repudiation without reason and inconsistently.

It comes together with the ease of obtaining firearms in this country; so readily available and accessible to any hostile individual with despicable ideas legitimized by a racist ex-president. 

If you don't name it, you can't fight it. And here it is: last week's attacks in Atlanta where a white man cold-bloodedly murdered 8 people, 6 Asian women is a race crime, it is a hate crime, and it is a misogynistic crime. It must be punished by those who commit it and those who encourage it, and it must be made sure that it never happens again. 

Gun control legislation is urgently needed in this country. Comprehensive, anti-racist, anti-misogynist and social justice education and culture must be guaranteed. I vehemently support the protests against racial hatred in the United States and this fight will not stop until it does.  


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