Internship Meeting March: Discussing Hate Crimes Against AAPI
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely transformed the lives of societies across the world, and the United States is no exception. Since the start of the pandemic early in the year 2020, America has also experienced a shocking increase in hatred and racially motivated crimes committed against the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) community. However, in recent months, the number of hate crimes has seemingly increased exponentially, with news headlines on a daily basis of another member of the AAPI community (typically elderly) being attacked. Anger from the AAPI community exploded after the Atlanta shootings in which six out of eight people killed were Asian. Attacks continue to happen even now, with an Asian woman being brutally beaten in New York just a few days ago, on March 29th. For this month’s Pathway meeting, interns were able to discuss a pressing issue that affects many people in our community: racism against Asian and Pacific Islander Americans.
Firstly, the meeting began with the presentation of a video made by the organization Dear Asian Youth, which discussed the history of racism against AAPI in the US. Racism against Asians in the United States dates back to the 19th century when Chinese people began first immigrating to the US to work labor jobs. These workers were often treated unfairly and were looked down upon compared to their white colleagues. The idea of the “Yellow Peril” persisted among Americans, which was the idea that Asian immigrants take away jobs. These racial tensions culminated in the Chinese Massacre of 1871, in which a mob of around 500 people invaded, and brutally murdered 19 Chinese people. South Asians have also historically experienced discrimination, as many South Asians were robbed and beaten in the Bellingham Riots of 1907, resulting in South Asians fearing for their lives. Along with these brutal racially motivated killings and discrimination impacting the lives of AAPI, the United States government also played a major role in perpetuating racism. This is evidenced by various policies created by the government throughout history which target Asian Americans, including the Foreign Miner’s Tax Act of 1850, the Chinese Exclusion Act, and the Japanese internment camps during World War Two. This video was very educational to the interns, and interns noted that a lot of the information presented through the video was new to them, and really served to open their eyes to the gravity of racism against AAPI throughout history.
Next, the interns were split into smaller groups and held discussions regarding recent rising racism against AAPI. Many of our interns identify as part of the AAPI community, and the areas that most of our interns live in contain a strong AAPI presence, so this topic really hit home for many people. The discussions included questions such as, “how has racism affected you”, “how can our generation be effective in combating racism”, and “what do you see for the future of this country.” The interns were able to transparently share their opinions with their fellow peers, all while discussing their personal experiences and emotions regarding recent events.
Overall the monthly meeting of March was wholly necessary given the recent unjustified and hateful attacks against Asian Pacific Islander Americans. An important first step to fixing racism is to acknowledge it, discuss it, and understand it. As for the future, Asian Americans must keep fighting and let their voice be heard.
Written by Megan Yi