Asian-American celebrities are appealing to the public to denounce anti-Asian hate crime in response to a growing number of acts of targeted violence against Asian Americans across the country, The Los Angeles Times reports.
On Tuesday, February 16, the NYC subway system saw two separate attacks on elderly Asian women. A 58-year-old and a 71-year-old victim both reported to police that they were punched by a stranger while trying to travel on the city’s subways and that the assailant subsequently fled.
However, these were not isolated incidents. The same day another 52-year-old Asian American woman was pushed to the ground by a man outside a New York City bakery. Following the attack, the victim had to get 10 stitches in her head.
An August 2020 UN report identified more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian-Americans in the United States over an eight-week period from March to May 2020. Meanwhile, in September, the Queens Chronicle found that NYPD data showed a 1,900 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City in the past year — there were 20 incidents in the first half of 2020 alone, compared to one in the whole of 2019.
Critics point to the coronavirus as well as Donald Trump's anti-Asian rhetoric including references to the "China Virus" for the increase in attacks. Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council said: “Our data and evidence of the real-life stories confirm that Asian Americans are facing increasing racist and xenophobic attacks, catalyzed by rhetoric from the president and other government leadership.”
In the last few weeks alone, an 84-year-old Thai American man, Vicha Ratanapakdee, was killed in an unprovoked attack in San Francisco; a 64-year-old Vietnamese American woman was assaulted in broad daylight in San Jose and robbed of $1,000 in cash she had taken out for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebration; and in New York, Noel Quintana, 61, a Filipino American was slashed in the face with a box-cutter while riding the subway.
Yet despite the spike in attacks, members of the Asian American community say the issue isn't getting the media attention it deserves. “The skyrocketing number of hate crimes against Asian Americans continues to grow, despite our repeated pleas for help,” wrote actor Daniel Kim. “The crimes ignored and even excused. Remember Vincent Chin.”
While the rising number of attacks are troubling, they aren't unprecedented. The recent spate of assaults has revived the conversation about the murder of Vincent Chin – a prominent figure in the Asian American rights movement who was murdered by two white autoworkers in 1982. Chin’s killers were sentenced to three years probation and a $3,000 fine. Neither spent a day in jail.
The murder sparked fear and outrage in the Asian-American community yet the incident has been largely fallen out of public memory. Now more attacks are happening against the Asian-American community yet they aren't receiving national attention. Actors including Daniel Dae Kim, Daniel Wu, and Gemma Chan want the public, authorities, and the media to pay more attention to anti-Asian attacks related to the pandemic.
Dae Kim explained to MSNBC how Asian elders have been particularly hard-hit, being at higher risk of severe cases of coronavirus and, with the spate of anti-Asian attacks, older Asian Americans are even more “scared to go out.” “It just makes our community fearful,” he said, “and it actually silences the community.”
“We are in a moment of reckoning,” civil rights activist Amanda Nguyen told MSNBC, calling on people to denounce anti-Asian hate crimes. “Silence erases our humanity. Yet it roars through the head of every Asian American as they step out the door and are afraid... How many more people need to be killed?”