Note: This editorial is a collaborative effort among The Talon, Fremont High School’s The Phoenix and Homestead High School’s The Epitaph. The quotes used have been collected via our Anti-AAPI Hate Crimes Student Survey, and they have been edited for clarity and concision.
AAPI violence has dominated the headlines recently: “Man Arrested In San Francisco Stabbing Of 2 Asian Women.” “Asian father brutally attacked while walking with 1-year-old child in SF.” “700 Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Reported in Bay Area During Pandemic – True Figures Might Be Even Worse.”
As the rest of the world reads about the terrifying incidents surrounding hate against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community, AAPI residents in the Bay Area live in fear, wondering whether the next headline will be about them.
While the prevalence of anti-AAPI hate crimes may seem sudden, it has always been an underlying issue, only brought to the surface in light of the pandemic. Since the start of the pandemic, anti-AAPI hate crimes have risen by 149 percent, and out of the 2,800 reports of discrimination in the U.S. that Stop AAPI Hate has recorded, about 700 took place in the Bay Area.
Their occurrences are largely due to unsubstantiated beliefs that the AAPI community — Chinese people in particular — are the root cause of the pandemic. Though the pandemic has been a stressful time for us all, it is no excuse to blame those who do not deserve to be blamed.
If anything else, COVID has held a figurative mirror up to America’s face: While many in America often shrivel away from any conversation regarding race, these hate incidents and crimes are proof that there is a continued need to appropriately discuss and articulate the acts of discrimination that people of color face in America.
The Bay Area is viewed by many as progressive in terms of racial equality and justice, yet it is far from immune to this national rise in hate. In fact, these types of racially-motivated incidents even occur within our own schools.
“Discrimination against Asians is so normalized,” an anonymous survey respondent said. “[Students] are able to just walk around talking about how they either think Asians are unattractive or will hypersexualize us. There really doesn’t feel like an in-between.”
“A boy a grade below me, whom I assumed was a mutual acquaintance, told me that ‘Tongans suck’ and proceeded to laugh at my face,” another anonymous respondent said. “What didn’t make sense to me was that he was Samoan, so we were both islanders. I didn’t understand the need to be rude and borderline racist.”
It is important to note that the vast majority of hate incidents and crimes start as microaggressions like the aforementioned quotes. A microaggression is an instance of indirect or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group. While often viewed as minor incidents by ill-informed individuals, given time, constant exposure to microaggressions can also be very degrading for members of any marginalized community.
These microaggressions even come from students’ teachers, whose roles are to uplift and encourage students to be the best they can regardless of identity.
“A teacher told me that I am supposed to be smart,” another anonymous respondent said. “I did not think too much of it at the time, but looking back, I am shocked.”
We as a society cannot have students’ academic efforts be invalidated because of their race. We cannot have students’ appearances be mocked or hypersexualized because of their race. We cannot have students’ acceptance of being treated as lower-than because of their race.
We need to take action, but it cannot be performative. It does not just mean the District’s signing a “Resolution for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination,” with the superintendent promising to not “let this targeted hatred and violence be a legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
We need to start a conversation. At Fremont High School, for example, students participated in an advisory presentation on anti-AAPI discrimination. It is not just the horrific hate crimes that need to be talked about, but also the microaggressions against the AAPI community that are all too normalized at this point.
We need to learn about it. There is a lack of Asian literature and history represented in the high school curriculum, and as a result, there is a lack of knowledge regarding the cultural complexities rooted in Asia’s geopolitical history. Without changing our curriculum, the treatment of Asians as a monolith will only be perpetuated.
We need to provide support and resources. Whether it is introducing violence prevention programs or having Zoom discussions to help process a traumatic event, the District has the power to provide students and staff a safe space to share their feelings and experiences.
We need to show our solidarity, not just with words, but with action.
Off campus, the existent tension among different affinity groups must be acknowledged. For instance, some claim that media coverage of anti-AAPI hate crimes takes away from the BLM movement, while others refuse to support BLM because some perpetrators of these crimes are Black. What is irrefutable, though, is that holding animosity will get us nowhere.
When one movement gains traction and media coverage, all movements will prosper. That is not to say that movements not gaining traction is not frustrating because it is. There is no way around that but we have to realize that we cannot just advocate for ourselves and must continue to advocate for all groups.
As student journalists, we recognize that the media coverage of the anti-AAPI hate crimes has not always captured the truth of the situation. As newspapers, we want to continue to advocate for the AAPI community and continue to cover what is happening to them. It is our role to capture our communities’ experiences. We intend to continue to fulfill that role.
This is our start to taking more initiative. The Asian community wants to be heard, and we want to do our part. We are not here to sensationalize or tokenize them; we are here to be more aware and awake to the stories that keep getting swept under the rug, to help amplify them using our platform.
So please, we implore you to reach out to us about your experiences, via any of our social media or at [email protected] We implore you to continue having these important conversations. We implore you to take action.
Where can I find more information?
“Anti-Asian hate crimes increased by nearly 150% in 2020, mostly in N.Y. and L.A., new report says” from NBC
“There were 3,800 anti-Asian racist incidents, mostly against women, in past year” from NBC
“The long history of anti-Asian hate in America, explained” from Vox
“Asian-Americans Are Being Attacked. Why Are Hate Crime Charges So Rare?” from The New York Times
“700 Anti-Asian Hate Incidents Reported in Bay Area During Pandemic – True Figures Might Be Even Worse” from KQED
“The long history of racism against Asian Americans in the U.S.” from PBS
“As virus-era attacks on Asians rise, past victims look back” from Associated Press
“EXPLAINER: Why Georgia attack spurs fears in Asian Americans” from Associated Press
Bystander Resources from hollaback!
Where can I donate?
Hyung Jung Grant (née Kim)
Soon Chung Park
Xiaojie “Emily” Tan
Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez
Yong Ae Yue
Elcias Hernandez Ortiz (cover medical bills)
Asian Pacific Fund
What can I petition for?
Raising Awareness & Ending Hate Crimes Towards the Asian Community via Change.org
Add Asian American history in school textbooks via Change.org
Who can I call and email?
California Senior Senator Dianne Feinstein
San Francisco office
One Post Street, Suite 2450
Phone: (415) 393-0707
Fax: (415) 393-0710
Washington D.C. office
331 Hart Senate Office Building
Phone: (202) 224–3841
Fax: (202) 228–3954
TTY/TDD: (202) 224–2501
California Junior Senator Alex Padilla
San Francisco office
333 Bush Street, Suite 3225
Phone: (415) 981–9369
Washington D.C. office
112 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224–3553
Fax: (202) 224–2200
California 18th District Representative Anna Eshoo
698 Emerson Street
Phone: (650) 323–2984, (408) 245–2339 or (831) 335–2020
Fax: (650) 323–3498
Washington D.C. office
272 Cannon House Office Building
Phone: (202) 225–8104
Fax: (202) 225–8890
Governor Gavin Newsom
Twitter: @CAgovernor @GavinNewsom
1303 10th Street, Suite 1173
Phone: (916) 445–2841
Fax: (916) 558–3160
Where can I protest?