Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) hate has been featured a lot in the news recently, as well as rallies and protests against it. Although it may seem as though this is a recent trend, AAPI hate has been happening for a long time. Whenever people think about discrimination, they usually think of African-Americans and the Black Lives Matter movement. Well, what about Asian-Americans We all deserve equal treatment, not just the select groups that make their voices heard.
On May 6, 1882, President Chester A. Arthur signed what became known as the Chinese Exclusion Act. This federal law prohibited the immigration of Chinese laborers for 10 years. Most people did not want these immigrants because they accepted lower pay and the other workers that wanted more pay were complaining that they did not get paid enough and worried they would just get fired and replaced by a Chinese laborer. They began to discriminate and view the Chinese people as lowly workers and much of the propaganda at the time depicted Chinese people in the stereotypical way with one small braid of hair and exaggerated slanted eyes. Laws like these show that even as far back as the 1800s, Asian Americans were being discriminated against for their heritage and how they looked.
More recently Asian Americans have been attacked on the streets, particularly our elderly community. My own grandparents are afraid to go out in public by themselves because they fear that they will be targeted. They saw the news of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee being assaulted by a 19-year-old man in broad daylight on the streets of San Francisco and later dying from his injuries. These types of attacks and discrimination are completely unacceptable and we must do what we can to make it stop so our elderly can feel safe again walking alone in their own neighborhood streets.
Another notable example of AAPI hate is when Carl Chan, president of Oakland’s Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, was attacked by a man ironically while he was on his way to visit another hate crime victim. Carl managed to stand his ground and capture pictures of his assailant, which helped police arrest the suspect who is now awaiting his sentence. We hope that the person responsible will be held accountable for their actions and that others will understand that no one will tolerate behavior like this in the Bay Area or anywhere.
Another recent incident occurred in New York when San Francisco resident Michelle Go was pushed in front of a subway to her death. Michelle was waiting for a train at the Times Square station when she was pushed from behind by Simon Martial. Although this is not being investigated as a hate crime, the Asian community is still reeling from this attack. This incident shows that hate crimes against AAPI people aren’t just happening in the Bay Area, but are also happening across the country.
AAPI hate needs to end. We have to realize that discrimination in any form is not acceptable and we need to work together to eliminate it. However, when we step back and take a look at what the world has become, we must also consider how our words may contribute to discrimination. Why should people be labeled as “black”, “white”, or “asian” in the first place How about seeing each person for who they are, which is a human. We are all human, and the color of our skin does not make us more or less important than someone else. At the end of the day, everyone’s lives matter and we should treat people based on their actions and who they are.
As a 2nd generation Asian-American I would like to express my appreciation to SingTao Daily and SingTao radio station for being sources of positive energy to the Chinese community. It’s great to have a respected organization that provides a platform for younger voices to bring visibility to important issues that affect the entire Chinese community. Our generation can build confidence in our communication skills through essay contests such as this which will help us carry the torch into the future.
Samantha Tow, Redwood City