The Asian American woman in this story will be referred to as anonymous. We are protecting her identity because she says any time she speaks out against Asian hate crimes, she receives death threats.
“Automatically someone wants to shut us down," she said. "Someone wants to silence us. Someone doesn’t want the truth out there.”
However, she says silence would be more dangerous. She’s a part of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community – APPI for short.
She says the Asian community has been targeted many times throughout history. In recent years, she says hatred has become normalized. Since the start of the pandemic, she and others have been living in a constant state of fear and anxiety.
“They all see us as one homogenous group and therefore it’s easier to target one big group versus actually taking the time and being thoughtful and deliberate about how they’re reacting to us and how they’re treating us and why this is so wrong,” she said.
Scott Levin is a director with the Anti-Defamation League. Its mission is to fight anti-Semitism and secure justice and fair treatment to all. He says people referring to coronavirus as the "China virus" or "Wuhan flu" are partly to blame for hateful actions against the AAPI community.
“When somebody attacks someone because they’re Chinese and they want to blame them for the pandemic that takes place, it’s horrible for the target of that crime, but it’s also a message that’s being sent to the entire AAPI community that ‘you’re not welcome here,’” Levin said.
According to a report from Stop AAPI Hate – a national coalition aimed at addressing anti-Asian discrimination – there have been nearly 3,800 hateful incidents since March of last year.
“68% of the hateful incidents and crimes against the AAPI community are against women and what we’re finding is that often times those that commit hate crimes and hateful incidents do it against those that are perceived to be the weakest," Levin said. "In addition, it could be that women just are reporting these crimes more than the men are at this time.”
The anonymous woman says she's proud of the women in the AAPI community for reporting hateful incidents.
“I’m glad that women feel the need and the anger and the confidence to show that in the way that they’re comfortable and that they feel safe," she said. "And through reporting perhaps we’ll get more attention and resources to combat this once and for all.”
So, what will it take to stop this hatred? The AAPI woman we can’t identify says a good place to start is to condemn all hate crimes or hateful incidents. Nonetheless, for people to really come together, she says we need to be willing to go outside our bubble and connect with people of different cultures.
“It’s really difficult to hate someone once you really get to know someone as a human being and make that connection and hear their stories,” she said.
The next step is having the political will to make a change.
"Thank goodness for these AAPI leaders in Congress who are taking that position to say ‘enough is enough, we’re doing something about it,’” she said.
“There’s some legislation that’s making its way through Congress right now that would give money for training, give money for investigation, and really be able to attack this problem as it should be from a whole government perspective,” Levin said.
Levin says the No Hate Act would offer resources for law enforcement to investigate and prosecute when hateful incidents turn into hate crimes. He says we may never live in a world with no hatred, but we can live in a world where hatred is frowned upon and in some cases punished.
“They don’t really have the same sort of shame that there is for their hateful thinking," Levin said. "And I think what we really need to do is work on the culture to change that.”