“You’re a coronavirus carrier. Go back to China!” These words were uttered by a middle school student before he punched an Asian American student from his class in the face and head twenty times on the schoolyard. The incident happened on February 4, 2020 just a few miles from Brentwood. And it took place before there was a single confirmed case of COVID-19 in Los Angeles.
Realizing incidents like this were part of a growing trend of discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, I founded Stop AAPI Hate with two colleagues in the Bay Area and we developed an online reporting center, with forms available in English and a dozen Asian languages. Last Tuesday, we at Stop AAPI Hate reported that we had received 3,800 incidents of hate directed at Asian Americans from all 50 states and the District of Columbia in the past eleven months. Given that the Pew Research Center found in a study last summer that three out of ten Asian Americans faced racist jokes and racial slurs in 2020, this is a small fraction of the total number of hate incidents and hate crimes that have taken place.
That same Tuesday in the evening, the shooting in Atlanta happened. We were devastated by the horrific loss of life and the targeting of Asian American women by the perpetrator.
Sadly, the number of anti-Asian hate incidents continues to grow. And of the nearly 4,000, 13% of incidents happened to children and youth under the age of 18, with 7% of them taking place in schools and universities across the country despite the fact that many schools like Brentwood and many school districts have yet to open to in-person learning.
As an Asian American parent, I worry about what this means for my kids and for the children of my friends, especially once schools open up. The time is now to begin to prepare and it is up to each and every one of us as parents—Asian American and Pacific Islander or not—to talk with our children and youth about what it means to be there for each other and to reject racism, even in its mildest forms.
If you want to be part of the solution, to help make a change, here a few resources:
- Report an incident of anti-Asian hate you have experienced at www.stopaapihate.org and encourage others to report. Only by understanding the problem, can we address it.
- Talk with your children about this issue. Materials and workshops at www.embracerace.org can help.
- Be an ally. Many of us participated in Black Lives Matter protests this past summer and we continue to uplift the experiences of our African American and Latinx community members. A few tips on how you can be an ally for AAPI communities can be found in this LA Times article.
- Seek to better understand what Asian Americans are experiencing and what anti-Asian racism looks like. The writers at “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” did exactly that, speaking with us at Stop AAPI Hate about the Atlanta incident, anti-Asian hate, and the model minority myth and used that information in crafting this segment.
- Listen to youth. The report “They Blamed Me Because I Was Asian” was written by youth in the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign last summer and provides information about kids’ experiences and recommendations for how to bring about change.
We can turn the tide, but we as Asian American families at Brentwood, in Los Angeles, and across the U.S. need the support of other families, of our schools, and our communities. We hope you will join us in our fight against hate.
Our own Meghana H. ’21, participated in the Stop AAPI Hate Youth Campaign last summer and helped draft the report, which was featured in Teen Vogue and NBC News. Students interested in participating in applying for the internship this summer should contact me.