Hate crimes against the Asian community have always been occurring, but nobody made a big deal out of it. The cases of hate crimes have sharply increased these past couple of months, mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It had fueled the hatred towards Asians even more, leading to members of the community being severely injured or even being killed.
Due to the origins of COVID, many people believed that it was Asians’ fault for this pandemic. Society put misplaced blame on Asians and caused others to look down upon them. It gave people unfounded reasons to hate Asians, commit hate crimes against them, and it allowed for people to have “justified” reasons for their actions. But in reality, Asians are also victims of this pandemic.
“I think it’s disgusting to have that kind of prejudice against a community of people who absolutely do not deserve it,” said Paige Ertle, a sophomore. “I think there’s really no excuse when it comes down to how you treat another person based on their race.”
Most of the incidents of hate crimes have been towards the elders of the community or those who have a family of their own. “I believe that they choose to target the elderly because of their vulnerability. Without much of a voice and inability to speak up for themselves, they’re seen as easy targets by perpetrators because they know they can easily get away with the hate crime they just committed,” junior William Zhang said.
Zhang and other students haven’t experienced the hate crimes that the elders experienced. Students face their own type of battle: the fight against stereotypes.
Natasha Lamouria, a sophomore, has experienced these stereotypes throughout her life. “This one moment in second grade stood out to me. When we were talking about skin color, and my second-grade teacher called me yellow,” said Lamouria. From a young age, stereotypes are introduced to children whether that’s from the media, school, or even parents. It pressures children to fit into a certain model and doesn’t allow them to express their personality. It also teaches kids to categorize people based on their skin color, instead of viewing the human race as one race. Stereotypes don’t affect the younger kids because they are oblivious to them. It really starts to make an impact on students when they are old enough to understand the toxic effects that stereotypes have.
Stereotypes don’t just have to do with someone’s skin color but personality as well. Stereotypes often oversimplify a certain group. For example, a stereotype of Asians is that they are smart, excel in math, and wear glasses. In my personal experience, I’m basically the opposite of society’s stereotype of Asians. I don’t wear glasses and I’m mediocre in math. Overgeneralizing a specific group takes away the uniqueness that could be found in that group because others make often inaccurate assumptions about what that group is like based on society’s definitions.
Because younger generations haven’t experienced any of the major hate crimes, it doesn’t mean we can turn a blind eye to it, like how the media has. The media is a double-edged sword. It’s an essential tool when it comes to spreading awareness about all the hate communities are receiving. It also can belittle the importance of prevalent issues. Right now, the media is often taking racism as a type of comedy and not as something that needs to be stopped.
“At the end of the day, the media is there to entertain. Americans want to be entertained,” Lamouria said. If the media is used correctly, it can become a powerful tool when spreading a message. It’s important to spread awareness of all the hate that has been happening especially to the Asian community.
“I try to spread awareness, especially in our school as well because some people don’t really see it as a problem,” said Anh Tran, a junior.
Protesting is another way to bring awareness but some have become skeptical about how effective protesting actually is. “I wouldn’t protest because if we did protest, it’s gonna get worse. I feel like the police are gonna stop us and that’s gonna cause more violence,” Tran said. Her fear of violent protest happening comes from the events that happened at the Black Lives Matter Movement. This is why Tran focuses more on the aspect of raising awareness of the hate that Asians are experiencing than the actual protest. Another option for trying to prevent the hate from spreading is being educated about other cultures could also minimize the hate people are receiving.
“I would want to make education more uniform across the country in teaching about our history and different cultures so that it’s more normalized, and people are learning from a young age about acceptance,” senior Emma McGee said.
The first step to stopping the hate crimes against Asians is to let people know that this cruel thing exists. It’s our job to spread awareness. From there, we all just need a little bit of empathy and acceptance towards others. We also need to be educated about other cultures and not fall into judging someone because of stereotypes. Then maybe the world can be in a better place than it is now.