• Creatively Asian

Anti-Asian Racism

Updated: Feb 28

Anti-Asian Racism is discrimination, antagonism, prejudice, stigmatization toward people of asian origin. It can be as subtle as under-the-breath microaggressions and as bold as violent hate crimes. The growing identity complex of Asian youth stems from xenophobic messages that permeates into self-perception. Though we see Anti-Asian Racism manifest mostly against people of east asian origin it affects the entire community detrimentally.

Recent attacks on elderly Asian victims have catalyzed national dialogue about Anti-Asian racism. Nearly a year into the coronavirus pandemic, nationalists are becoming increasingly hostile towards people of Asian descent across the country.

Timeline of Prominent Anti-Asian Racism

  • (19th Century) Origins of Anti-Asian Racism date back to the “Yellow Peril” fueling US legislation (like the Chinese Exclusion Act) as Asian Americans were seen to be job competition during the 2nd Industrial Revolution.

  • (1896)- With the Philippines under Colonial Rule, The US pointed to Filipinos’ “political and medical unruliness” to justify continued U.S. colonial rule in the islands. Which follows suit with theories that anti-asian racism holds colonialist roots.

  • (1917) Under nativist political pressure, the Immigration Act of 1917 established an “Asian Barred Zone” of countries from which immigration to the U.S. was forbidden.

  • (1942) We also see early Anti-Asian racism take form in the use of Japanese Internment Camps during World War Two in the US. 10 camps were opened, holding approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans for varying periods of time in California, Arizona, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, and Arkansas.

  • (1975) The Asian continent became the focus of world attention as the US and USSR dug its heels into the Vietnam and Korean War. Roughly one million Southeast Asians entered the United States from looking for jobs and settlement. This tension created a new struggle for a new generation that is dealing with their own personal struggle, economic tribulation, and racial harassment.

Recent Upticks

A series of violent crimes against Asians and Asian Americans has prompted activists and experts to warn that racist rhetoric about the coronavirus pandemic may be fueling a rise in hate incidents. With monikers like “Kung Flu” and “Chinese Virus” spreading faster than the pandemic, we see the world renew Anti-Asian Racism in an increasingly toxic way. More than 2,500 anti-Asian hate crimes were reported from March to September in 2020, according to a new study by Asian-American Bar Association. The latest incidents have gone viral as a video surfaced of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee, a Thai man, being shoved to the ground while walking in San Francisco. He died soon after.

“I Still Believe in Our City” by Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya

Many Asian American Artists have used their skills to shine light on the growing issue including Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya’s series ‘I Believe in Our City’. “My goal with this art series was to turn these hurts into something beautiful and powerful… I really wanted to find a way to say, despite everything we have faced as Asian-Americans and New Yorkers, that I still believe in New York.” According to the New York Times, Ms. Phingbodhipakkiya's “I Still Believe in Our City” series was created as a response to a grim statistic: “From February to September, more than 566 reports of discrimination, harassment and bias related to Covid-19 — 184 of which were anti-Asian in nature. It’s a troubling spike not just appearing in New York, but in Asian-American communities across the country”

‘Resiliency Posters’ by Monyee Chau

After stickers from a white nationalist group were posted around Seattle’s Chinatown-International District, local multimedia artist Monyee Chau responded by creating "resiliency posters" and placing them around her neighborhood. “I wanted to counteract these stickers that were so misinformed, so xenophobic,” Chau says, “[and] share that our community has been built on love and on growth and healing.”

“I Am Not A Virus” panel comic by Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom.

This comic was inspired by a real event reported in Gothenburg, Sweden. A 15-year-old girl of Singaporean descent, born and raised in Sweden, was tapped on the shoulder by a young woman who, after first mentioning the coronavirus, asked her to get off the tram. Anti-Asian Racism is not only a US issue, it's a global issue.

How you can help:

  • Recognizing and acting when there is a problem and saying something (whether you are Asian or not) is always the first step. This can be in the form of reporting an incident, standing up for someone who is being harassed, or speaking up when someone makes pandemic “jokes”.

  • Support organizations that show solidarity with AAPI communities is an easy and popular way that many stand up against anti-asian racism. Advocacy is always the key to change.

  • If you are Asian, channel that pain. Whether that be speaking out about the discrimination you feel, educating a friend, or creating Art that represents how you feel- it is important we take meaningful steps to combat such racism. We must work together to create a better world. You are not alone.

Written by Pooja Manjakandy. Graphics by Haley Ma. Click here to see the original post!