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COVID-19 Pandemic Created Multiple Problems for Asian-American Community

By: Manny Otiko, IVN

The COVID-19 pandemic may be over in the eyes of the government, but the Asian American community is still suffering from the after effects.


One of those after effects was an increase in anti-Asian hate crimes. The Center for Study of Hate and Extremism said Asian-Pacific Islander hate crimes jumped 339% in the first quarter of 2021.


According to Heidi Lau, the Asian Youth Center’s Stop Hate Program manager, there was a lot of hate towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during the period.


This could be divided into two groups. Hate crimes and hate incidents. Hate crimes are violations of laws, but hate incidents, such as school bullying, are more difficult to prosecute.


According to a survey from AAPI LA:


STOP AAPI Hate reported more than 11,000 hate incidents from 2020-22.


38% were reported in California

67% of the incidents involved some sort of harassment


However, many of the attacks went unreported. Lau attributed this to Asian culture, which believes in not complaining about a situation. She said Asian Americans were more focused on working hard, going to school and succeeding economically. This made them reluctant to talk about abuse.


Lau pointed out that other ethnic groups, such as African Americans and Latinos, are more likely to voice their complaints if they feel they’re being treated poorly.


However, the situation was exacerbated by comments by former President Donald Trump when he was in office. Lau attributed Trump’s comments to an increase in attacks and people being targeted with comments such as “go back to your own country” and “you brought the disease over here.”


The former president called Covid “kung flu” and “China virus.” CBS White House reporter Weijia Jiang said an unnamed Trump WH staffer targeted her with the “kung flu” slur.


Apart from the increase in hate crimes, the Asian American community is still suffering economically from the Covid downturn.


According to Lau, many Asians are still out of work.


“Even though the COVID numbers have gone down, we’re still seeing a large number of Asian Americans unemployed,” she said.


She added that because of the culture and lack of familiarity with the system, many Asians have refused to seek help from the government. Lau said that faced with the increase in hate crimes, her organization created a series of programs to counter the negative environment. This included handing out information at public events about the increase in hate crimes, connecting with other community groups and educating the Asian community about how they can lodge complaints about incidents.


With all the challenges in the post-Covid environment, many Asian-Americans have realized the importance of being involved in politics.


According to Lau, Asian Americans lag in political representation. Less than 1% of elected officials are Asian Americans, according to Reflective Democracy Campaign.


Lau said Asian Americans are still marginalized.


“We do want to see more powerful people and elected officials representing API,” she said.


“This grant is provided by California Black Media through work from the State of California Library Stop The Hate grant campaign”

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