Following a rise in attacks against them, the Asian American community has begun to take steps in their defense through online campaigns, fundraising for groups such as Stop AAPI Hate and awareness promotion via hashtags like #NotYourModelMinority.
In California, volunteers have mobilized to escort senior Asian American citizens out around town. In Oakland, groups such as Asians With Attitudes—founded by a Jimmy Bounphensy—are patrolling the Chinatown neighborhood after incidents of theft and violent attacks.
One Korean American citizen living in Washington, Esther Lim, has also written an information booklet on dealing with police and contains phrases written in English to show bystanders to ask for help. It is being printed in six languages—Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Spanish, Thai and Vietnamese—with more on the way including Tagalog and Khmer.
Activists believe that the spike in attacks—which include looting, vandalism and sometimes fatal assaults—targeting the Asian minority communities was sparked by former President Donald Trump’s pronouncements of the “Chinese virus.”
More recently, earlier this week, eight people were killed at three spas in Atlanta, Georgia, six of which were women with Asian descent.
Investigators of the incident have not ruled out anti-Asian bias and ‘male supremacy’ as motivators. The suspect, Robert Aaron Long, was identified by his parents in surveillance footage and was charged with eight counts of murder and one count of aggravated assault linked to the shootings.
Though racial motivation can be hard to prove, a report by the Center for Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino showed that hate crimes against Asians shot up to nearly thrice the number of cases in the last year (from 49 to 122) across 16 major cities including New York and Los Angeles.
President Joe Biden had signed an executive order opposing pandemic-related racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), a move which states have followed. California and New York have devoted more resources to fight racism.
Among those targeted are people of Filipino, Thai, Japanese, Laotian, Korean and Chinese descent. In the past year, almost 3,800 Asian Americans were victims of hate crimes.