Horrifying and violent attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as the growing prevalence of Asian hate around the globe, are a clear ramification of the lack of inclusion policies.
By Francesca Yang, Secretary of the Asian Culture Club / Contributor
How often do countries take pride in their nation’s diversity? How frequently do institutions praise different cultures, traditions, sexual orientations, and ethnicities in a tokenistic way, just to prove how progressive they are? How often do institutions implement purposeful inclusion strategies in their communities, to guarantee that all feel welcome? Horrifying and violent attacks against Asian American and Pacific Islander communities, as well as the growing prevalence of Asian hate around the globe, are a clear ramification of the lack of inclusion policies.
On March 16, eight people were killed in a series of shootings at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Six of these victims were people of Asian descendent and seven were women. Although the motivation behind this tragedy has not yet been clearly stated, there is evidence that it was a misogynistic, xenophobic, and racist attack against Asian women. United States President Joe Biden expressed his grief for the innocent victims, saying, “They’ve been attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed. It’s been a year of living in fear for their lives.” Sadly, this mass shooting is just one of the many violent attacks on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders that has taken place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The use of inappropriate and racist language such as anti-Chinese rhetoric has increasingly driven discrimination and racism against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities throughout the pandemic. According to a non-profit advocacy organization called Stop AAPI Hate, there were nearly 3,800 incidents against AAPIs in the United States over the last year due to COVID-19. Reported incidents include verbal and online harassment, violent physical assaults, and workplace discrimination. There are likely many more incidents that remain unreported. AAPI community members continue to suffer because of the distorted and hateful misrepresentations of their identities, cultures, physical appearance, and language.
Are the ongoing anti-AAPI hate crimes only happening in America? No, hate crimes are global and often manifest in virtual spaces, due to higher global access to technology. When the media initially attributed the “blame” of the coronavirus to China, discriminatory statements and acts against the Asian communities spread throughout Italy. Il Messaggero reported that some stores in the center of Rome displayed signs dissuading people from Chinese backgrounds from entering their businesses. Many Asian-own establishments and restaurants across the country have had to temporarily or permanently close due to attacks and lack of customers, according to BBC.
Members of JCU’s Asian Culture Club reported that they and their families faced increased tensions, harassment, and violent incidents. From one day to another, members of the Asian community received disgusted looks on the bus and witnessed people changing routes or sidewalks to avoid crossing paths with them. Some resorted to commuting by car, as they feared attacks on buses and the metro. Some Chinese-Italians, born and raised in Italy and with minimal knowledge of the Chinese language and culture, were suddenly confronted with being labeled and identified as exclusively Chinese because of their appearances, while they actually deeply identify as Italian.
Until we fully and truly embrace diversity and abolish systemic racism ingrained in social systems around the globe, these events will keep happening. Exclusion, discrimination, and hate crimes are a threat to all communities worldwide. We should embrace our differences and show equal support and encouragement to all of our fellow human beings.
A diverse and inclusive society will never exist with discrimination. Act to build it.