We Need To Talk About Anti-Asian Hate
- We need to talk about anti-Asian hate. - The wave of violence against elderly, Asian Americans - Violent attacks against Asian Americans. - More than 2,800 reports since the pandemic began. - [Woman] Man attacks the couple. - [Man] Elderly woman is chased by a bully. - [Woman] Slapped her and lit her clothes on fire.
- [Man] Violently pushed to the ground. - [Woman] Eight people are dead after shootings. - I never see him again.
- Since the Corona virus pandemic began, thousands of Asians in the U.S. have become targets of harassment. The Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center found that bullying, assaults and verbal abuse are becoming more normalized across the United States.
Now, there are a lot of upsetting incidents that demonstrate this spike in targeted attacks. Some of which you might have recently seen shared across social media, but what has always deeply bothered me about this issue is why have so many of us not talked about this before? Not just online, but in our classrooms, or with other marginalized groups, or even at our own dinner tables? Why is it that when we need to talk about anti-Asian hate it often feels like we're talking about it for the first time. - Despite having such a long history in this country we are not the ones you think of when you think of Americans.
And very often people don't take the time to even distinguish between who is Chinese, who is Korean, who is Japanese and so on. And now we find ourselves in this really tragic and unpredictable situation, not just in America, but around the world with this virus. - He shouted, "I don't want your coronavirus in my country." And he swung a punch at me. - Anti-Asian sentiments are nothing new in this country or around the world.
To try and determine how we can best protect ourselves, while also proactively working with other communities, we'll be diving into the often overlooked and complex history of the Asian experience in America. - The United States was founded on principles of freedom and justice, but also on racism. And I think when we deny that we end up hurting ourselves. Racism is built into our structures. It's infused into our cultural DNA. Racism is constantly adapting and shifting to fit the moment.
And the quicker we acknowledge that hate as a whole is a problem that we all have to address the quicker we can get to some solution. - To start, let's clarify something. What exactly do I mean, when I say Asian American.
Today the term is used as a sort of pan-ethnic catch-all that includes the diasporas of the world's largest populations like China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan Philippines, and so on. However, in America we often think of Asian Americans as people who might look more like me or are of East Asian descent. - So, I remember, probably the first experience that I had, a woman I sat down next to on an Amtrak, just started yelling at me and literally just kind of punching me a bit on the shoulders to just get away from her, because she was you know, thinking she was going to get infected. - In this video we'll be focusing on the experiences of people from East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. But I want to point out that many of the issues and histories being discussed will also include the viewpoints of other ethnicities and races since neither Asians nor the term Asian Americans is a monolith.
I also want to preface this with the fact that there's no easy answers to the questions that I'll be discussing in this video. There is a wide range of different opinions within and outside of the Asian American community which are important to address. So if you're with me right now I encourage you to grab your friend or neighbor or your family and get them to watch this with you. How much do they know about Asian American history and targeted racism? Not a lot coming to mind, right? Don't worry. It is the same for me.
I, myself was born and raised in Texas and our textbooks had nothing on what I'm about to share with you. - The recent events are not new. You know we, you go back a hundred years and you see, like literally the same thing. People calling Chinese immigrants dirty and, you know thinking that they carry diseases, taking jobs all this stuff, you see it like, it's been happening, right? And it's crazy that still a hundred years later we're back here again.
- Ever hear of the term Yellow Peril? It referred to East Asian Americans being a sort of existential danger to the Western world considered both unclean and unfit. So, how did the Asian American community first become established in North America and how excited were the white people to see them? I'm sure it went really well. - The Chinese came over to the United States in droves in the 1800s. They came fleeing desperation and poverty back in China and settled predominantly in the West.
And they were responsible for building so much of our infrastructure here in the West. But soon after they started getting accused of taking jobs from people and, you know, they didn't look like European immigrants. They wore their hair in, in long queues and they had eyes that were reputedly evil looking eyes. And because they were perceived as working for less than what white Europeans and Americans at the time would work for. They earned this reputation as being dirty and unclean. - Amid this venomous atmosphere came the passage of the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act in 1882.
The first law in the United States that barred immigration solely based on race, meaning you are disqualified from entering this country just because you are who you are. Now, the sentiments of the Yellow Peril were actively enforced by federal law. As xenophobic propaganda spread about Chinese uncleanliness the sentiment boiled over into violence. On October 31st, 1880, a violent mob formed in Denver's Chinatown attacking every Chinese person and business insight and killing one resident. Similarly in the fall of 1885 anti-Asian feelings in Seattle led to four months of riots aimed at driving the Chinese out of the city. The same year white workers in Wyoming massacred 28 Chinese coal miners.
These are just three of over 150 anti-Asian riots that swept through the American West during the 1870s and 1880s. Now you might have already noticed a narrative of supposedly disease and uncleanliness being used as a weapon to rationalize hatred towards Asians. Sound familiar? Well it's happened and it's happened a lot. - The thing that is so devastating to me is that viruses have emerged from all over the world. Yet an entire people don't get blamed for spreading the virus around the world. - In 1900, the bubonic plague broke out in Honolulu in response, the Board of Health set fire to 41 buildings in the city's Chinatown.
Forcing its residents into quarantined detention camps. Six years later in Santa Ana, California the city council citing a Chinese man who allegedly contracted leprosy, decided to burn down its own Chinatown. Not to mention how American officials denigrated Filipinos for their supposedly unclean and uncivilized bodies in the early 20th century. The pervasiveness of these racist beliefs can be seen through 1930 when Californian mobs attacked a Filipino community.
Murdering 22 year-old Fermin Tobera, no one was charged. Keep in mind that these examples of anti-Asian violence I've mentioned were the few that were actually reported, or remembered. American history would gladly hide and forget the race fueled atrocities aimed towards its own Asian citizens at home. Especially in times of war. During World War II, the media and war propaganda depicted Asians as crafty and cunning. Yep, that one's from Dr. Seuss himself.
Then after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 Japanese Americans were arrested within hours and detained without due process. Two months later, about 120,000 people of Japanese descent were rounded up and taken to incarceration camps. - What happened to Japanese Americans during World War II that is such a black mark on American history the internment of over a hundred thousand Japanese and Japanese Americans. And after that demographic was interned for so many years, immediately thereafter, they having lost everything, went back to their lives. That's been sort of the Asian way.
- Many of the incarcerated were second or third generation Americans and naturalized citizens. Even those who joined the 442nd, an elite U.S military regiment after they were confined had apparently not done enough to prove their loyalty and be considered American. By the way, the 442nd regiment is another incredible unknown Asian American story.
They were the most decorated infantry unit of their size in U.S military history. And they literally fought for the freedom of a country that was stripping away theirs. That is true patriotism, not the people telling them to go back where they came from. - My dad, you know, came here as an immigrant when he was originally, when he was eight years old.
He subsequently joining the army in World War II and became a World War II veteran. Did that make a difference in terms of the quality of his life? No, we still experience the same discrimination. - I heard about the days where my grandfather and mom had to hear, you know, go back to China, constantly. A lack of compassion towards Asian people tends to percolate and has a lasting effect. - Years later the Immigration Act of 1965, finally removed race specific restrictions on immigrants. Many of our families can trace their entries to the Asian Americans who came during this wave to this country, and a new generation of immigrants, like myself were born.
- You have to keep in mind that a large majority of Asians in America right now are the result of the new immigration laws and mid 1960s. So we have a lot of Asians that came over and had no idea of the racial tension that they were coming into. They're new to this country. They came here from war torn countries. They're trying to survive. And so when you're trying to survive, you are just going to do your best to not cause a stir and hope no one notices.
Because in their countries if you cause a stir, like you were dead. - My parents are both from mainland China and they left in the cultural revolution, left for Cambodia, stayed there for maybe a decade or so. And then they had to flee the revolution there too. Yeah, the traumatic one, the genocide basically.
Kind of a classic immigrant story, very textured and layered and you know, traumatic, very traumatic. - Now, something else that act of 1965 did was prioritize skilled workers, shifting immigration from an exclusionary quota system to a merit based point system. Meaning highly educated and upper-class Asian immigrants were the majority of those allowed in, leading to the exceedingly problematic fallacy that was dubbed the model minority.
- I would shrink my shoulders, put my head down. And try to be invisible. The immigrant shrivel. - A model minority. - Now I know some of you have probably heard the term, model minority thrown around many times, but it is far more sinister than you realize.
It refers to the concept that Asian Americans serve as a model, or reference for other minorities about how to be successful. - This notion of being that stereotypical, quiet, well-behaved, dutiful citizen has caused all sorts of problems. One, it's created a silent, what they call bamboo ceiling in so many corporations.
Where you are welcome to the table because you behave, but you cannot sit at the table and speak up. We know this because Asians and particularly Asian women according to Harvard Business Review are the least likely to get promoted to management. It's implicitly created implicit bias and racism in Asian community against so many other minorities. - The stereotype was coined in 1966 by white sociologists William Petersen.
From its inception it has been employed as a weapon, contrasting Asian immigrants against so-called problem minorities, who fail to conform to white culture and society. However, many of the advances of Asian Americans around the time, the 1960s, were not the result of hard work alone, but a product of the same systemic forces that held others down. - 1965, Asian quotas were lifted from Asian countries, right? But those quotas ask for people who were educated, right? Who could bring some value to society.
Doctors, engineers, educated people, college students. - So, as many of our families immigrated here they were immediately cast into this model minority myth. The overperformance of some sectors of the Asian American population, which come on, American officials basically curated this from the beginning, was presented as proof that the post-World War II higher education system lived up to its promise of meritocracy.
- From the beginning this model minority label pitted specifically Asian Americans against, you know, black Americans. And it got really prevalent in the 1980s and the 90s. And now it's just so entrenched and just like kind of part of the DNA of I think both our communities, where they see us one way, we're seen a different way. So it's actually, it really puts us against each other.
- After that you have a magazine saying that Asian Americans are the model minority which makes it so that, oh if Asian Americans who are predominantly picked from countries based on their education and class status can make it why can't black and Latin X people make it? So that is how we have been used as a racial wedge by the media to say that we are better than other races. - The perceived inclusion of Asian Americans perpetuated through this myth has been used to undermine the activism of African-Americans, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups in the United States. The model minority theory proposed that Asian Americans were more successful than other ethnic minorities because of hard work, education and our inherently law abiding natures. Do you hear how gross that is when it's plainly defined? Because it gets very complicated. This emphasized the idea that the new system was truly colorblind. Meaning if certain minorities and poor whites failed to rise they only had themselves to blame, because the Asians could do it.
- Why is it that Asian Americans are actually the wealthiest and highest incomes of any group in America? I mean, so that would actually go against the idea that the entire country is built on white supremacy still. And again, the U.S. constitution was not written in Korean, it wasn't written in Chinese, but it shows that any individual, any person that comes here with hard work and entrepreneurial attitude can succeed.
- The government has repeatedly exploited this attitude to further drive a wedge between Asian Americans and other people of color. - I grew up watching black comedians make jokes about Mexicans all the time or Chinese people all the time, because the crabs-in-the-barrel behavior where everyone was trying to climb out, is as long as I'm not on the bottom, it's better than that. I'd rather be any place else than on the bottom. And that's true of poor or socioeconomically disadvantaged white people too.
They'd rather situate themselves or align themselves politically with politics that actually don't serve them, but that is better than being on the bottom with black people. And so they become the protectors, if you will, of race. - Look, I've been guilty of perpetuating this myth in different ways throughout my life.
Whether consciously or subconsciously and it can manifest itself in subtle, surprising ways. Consider my reputation here online with you as viewers. So often I'm cast and appraised as a high performing individual who's great at everything, but I mean, come on, I have lost and been totally mediocre in countless videos. Like, we know I can be terrible, accept it.
- Hey. - Did someone ordered the world's worst babysitter? What's a proper way to wake a baby up? Do you just shake him? I'm not great at math. I don't play chest. I said chest. I'm out, first one's out.
Big surprise. - We pretty much all knew that he was in fourth. - One time when I got high, I stripped naked.
I stole my friend's dog. I climbed up a tree and proclaimed myself the wolf king, but that was one time. Whenever I do anything well many will cite that it's because I'm Asian and that I'm sure it's always meant as a compliment, but really think about how attributing an individual's success to their race undercuts their accomplishment and their individuality. And on top of all this the biggest hoax of the model minority myth is although it might appear to benefit the Asian community it has never guaranteed safety from anti-Asian hate. - I remember my father telling me difficulties for his assimilation because he's trying to prove himself in society and especially American society that he felt almost not able to provide because he didn't speak the language.
And then also how is he going to create a family in a new place. - In 1979, when anti-Asian racism spiked again after the Vietnam war, the KKK drove Vietnamese refugees from a fishing village in Texas, set fire to their houses and boats and hung a shrimper in effigy. - I think that the Vietnamese people, and again just talking about Vietnamese people and their experiences, is that they're just so exhausted. There's no point in fighting, you know and if they don't like us, then we're just here. - This was not that long ago, but there was a muted outcry about these heinous crimes. It wouldn't be until 1982 that a horrific murder would be the major trigger that mobilized Asian American communities to come together and stand up for their civil rights.
A man you might have never heard of named Vincent Chin showed the world that justice does discriminate. His murder and the events that followed forced many within and outside the Asian community to adjust their perspectives and perceptions about race. - Vincent Chin was murdered in 1982, he was about to get married. And he was at his bachelor party in a strip club. There were these two white auto workers. This was during the Detroit auto workers crisis where a lot of Japanese car companies were really doing well.
So a lot of people were blaming Japanese car companies for the loss of American jobs. These two white auto workers looked at Vincent Chin and said, "It's because of you mother fuckers "that we're out of work." And Vincent Chin and the two guys Ronald Ebens and Michael Nitz got into a fight then followed him to the McDonald's that was nearby and took out a bat from his car and proceeded to beat him to death in the middle of the street with dozens and dozens of onlookers. His brains in the street.
The guys ended up not having to serve a day in jail, paying $3,000 for my cousins death. - You know the judge in the case was a prisoner of war. And he looked at these two white men and said, "These are not the kind of men you send to jail." - "These aren't the kind of men you send to jail."
With those words, judge Kaufman's decision was a pivotal turning point for Asian American consciousness. - [Man] Following the 1982 beating death of Vincent Chin by two white men, caused Asian American groups across the country to protest the verdict. - He beat up this Chinese guy, because he thought he was Japanese. - Vincent's last words were, "It's not fair." - What outraged the Asian community, both escaped a 15 year prison term.
Instead they were placed on three years probation and given a $3,000 fine. - I want just for Vincent, I want justice for my son. - It showed that people of different Asian ethnicities were inextricably linked. I mean, the perpetrators attacked Vincent because they thought he was Japanese.
And it didn't matter that he was Chinese American. To them it was all the same. That's when we realized the discussions around race relations in the United States needed to include all of us. A movement of solidarity and activism emerged that still persists today. And yet I had never been told about Vincent Chin, growing up.
Maybe my parents or grandparents heard about him. And I'm sure they were shocked and angered by his death, but I can't help, but feel that my family's need to survive sometimes outweighed their need to speak out. To remain detached and removed from any issues that could threaten their children or way of life. Vincent Chin's story exposed that even though he was a member of this so-called model group, he was still an outsider. And the promises of protection that came with attempted assimilation into white society was false.
- Deceptive protection. We think that we are safe because we have been adjacent to the white majority and therefore benefit from their protection. - That's what Asian American studies call is, conditional citizenship.
If you don't fit the conditions, like that on a dime, you're flipped out. - For decades many Asian Americans felt ill-equipped to stand up for themselves and other communities. However, when Vincent's story did finally create a momentum of activism, it was the black community in the midst of the civil rights movement that served as an example for our own uprising. - The United States as we understand it was built on the project of racialization, of separating, distinguishing, and valuing and de-valuing people along lines of race and their proximity to work away from whiteness. - The struggle of Asians and African-Americans are very different and we're not trying to equate our experiences in any way, but we also need to remember that we've been linked in ways we don't often hear about. - You know, these violent attacks against Asian Americans, it's also, you know, I'm black and Asian.
So it's really disheartening and actually really traumatic to read stories like this. I just saw like a really huge need for these two communities to come together 'cause we're not each other's enemies. When you understand the history of everything, you kind of start to understand how you can move forward.
Back in the sixties and seventies I think they truly understood how important education was. And I think that's why they set up a lot of neutral aid. A lot of community support that involved educating.
- The Civil rights movement was highly influential amongst Asian American leaders who drew inspiration from black freedom fighters. Likewise, when Japanese Americans were sent to detention camps during World War II, black civil rights leaders try to repeal the Emergency Detention Act. Cross-cultural activism blossomed as Asian American students rallied alongside black student organizers and other ethnic groups as part of the Third World Liberation Front in the late sixties. This culminated in student strikes that led to equal education opportunities and the creation of ethnic studies programs. In 1978 it was black people who called for the U.S. to accept Indo-Chinese refugees and even paid for a full page advertisement in the New York Times.
Similarly, when Vincent Chin was beaten to death black activists like Jesse Jackson were part of the movement to call for justice for his murder. - Those who live, we must redefine America, so everybody knows everybody fits in the rainbow somewhere. - You know, there was a photo I just found of Jesse Jackson holding my great auntie Lily Chin, comforting her. I remember every day that it was racial solidarity coalitions that made Vincent Chin's name known all across the country. That created federal legislation around hate crimes that didn't exist for people like my cousin. - It's because of the black community and civil rights movement, that Asians then adopted and who were beneficiaries of immigration, improved rates and in terms of voting policies that were more immediate to us, in terms of interracial marriage that was now available to us.
And that once again started from another community that was othered, that we were othered with. - Activists like Yuri Kochiyama and Grace Lee Boggs not only pulled insights from black radical frameworks for Asian American liberation but were also strong and active advocates for black social justice movements. Yuri was so involved with Malcolm X's work that she was present at his assassination in 1965 and at the forefront of countless civil rights and social justice battles over the last six decades. Unfortunately, a notable schism occurred between the communities after the 1991 killing of Latasha Harlins. Latasha was a 15 year-old black girl who was shot in the back by Korean immigrant store owner Soon Ja Du. Who assumed that she was stealing a bottle of orange juice.
- [Woman] The store clerk, a Korean woman is now in jail. The black community is outraged over the killing. The NAACP is demanding the clerk be tried for murder. - [Crowd] We want justice. Stop killing our children. - It is my opinion that Mrs. Du is not a danger
to the community and that she is not going to re-offend. - Although Du was convicted of voluntary manslaughter later that year, the lightness of her sentence helped stoke the flames for civil unrest. Then the following year protests erupted after four police officers were caught on camera brutally beating Rodney King, a black motorist and then acquitted. During the unrest Korean American businesses appeared to be targets for looting and destruction as what many thought was retaliation for Latasha's murder. - [Woman] Many Koreans who yesterday were the shopkeepers of South Central Los Angeles today have lost the businesses they took years to create.
- I mean, we've been through so much and to go through this, I mean, who would think, 22 years down the drain? - You know how it all started, the first thing, when the girl got killed. - What, six moths probation? The people were pissed then, and they just don't seem to have any respect for the black community. - AAPI folks have been here for hundreds of years, but the reality for black folks is we've been here twice as long and experienced oppression for twice as long and have different experiences. But the source is the same.
I think what we have to do is partly what you're doing right now and highlight the truth, and highlight people's experiences and stories. They're all valid. Even the people who are upset and angry and want to lash out.
- My dad has even himself said like, "Oh no, I'm not American." Like they still feel like they're visitors here. Right? We can't claim that anymore.
We were born here. We have issues here that we need to face. A lot of people don't even want to acknowledge that they have these prejudices. Some of it's not even just rooted in anti-blackness. Some of it's rooted in their own self hate. - This leads us to a very important discussion that needs to be included.
And one that reaches across color lines and takes a critical look back at a painful, often overlooked part of our shared history, anti-blackness. - I mean, how many of our parents are anti-black? That's no secret. So many of our parents are anti-black.
Across the world it's just bred this immense not just anti-blackness, but anti anything that's not Asian or white. - This manifests in numerous ways, including false perceptions about lawlessness, intelligence and colorism. And be honest, how many of you have been pressured to have lighter skin by your parents, by your culture? And that is seriously messed up. And yes, it is anti-black. - Dark versus light is a big deal in Asian community. You go back to India for instance, people are still widening their skin.
You go to the Philippines all the models are light-skinned. So, I mean, I can go on and on and on and on and on. But the notion of light versus dark skin is fundamentally within our culture, a thing. - I used to live and go to school in the Philippines. I remember the first time I ever experienced colorism, we were at school and I was in the classroom and the teacher turned off the lights cause she wanted to show us a presentation or something. And someone in the class said, "Oh, we can't see Asia anymore."
And I was like, well, I'm Filipino. Like, why am I being discriminated against by like Filipinos? It was really weird. Light-skinned and like white, mixed Filipinos are like dominating the media. And so I never saw anyone that looked like me and I always felt very othered in that community. - [Woman] We see it represented in entertainment. We see it represented in everything where whiteness is the norm.
- In the years since interracial conflict has often served as the primary framework for looking at interactions between black and Asian American communities. From a 2017 viral video that documented a Korean beauty store owner physically attacking a black customer he suspected of shoplifting to some Asian Americans advocacy for eliminating affirmative action. Conversations about race between these two communities often center on anti-black actions and beliefs. - The model minority myth hurts us because it kind of detracts us from the main battle we should be fighting which is white supremacy. This term was put on us to like keep us fighting amongst ourselves, to like distract us from the real reason why it even exists. We're constantly pointing our fingers at other people or institutions saying that's racist and you're racist, but we never really look inside of ourselves.
And I think that's a critical step that we all need to take. - So if all of us got together in America and around the world and said, "Hey, you know what?" "We don't want that anymore." That would impact almost everything that we do. And so that's what I believe is happening right now. People are coming together to fight for something different. - This is the only way we can begin to address the myriad of problems presented in this video that contributes to racist systems.
Speaking up and speaking out is the first step to finding common ground. Even if that journey is laid with arguments about some very controversial issues. - The NYP has formed a new task force to fight an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans.
- This hit home for me, because I have friends, families who are legitimately afraid to go outside because they fear for their safety. - I can speak from, you know, being the recipient of police service and also having, you know, served on the oral board to select officers to make sure that they're really community oriented. The officer's actually lived in Oakland was an important consideration, making sure that they understood the concept of community policing. I don't think throwing more money at the police is necessarily going to solve the issues that we're talking about today. Where I think you see a lot of the impact is like you mentioned people coming together in solidarity to support one another in their plights, not by paying more you know, police departments more money and taking away from more important social services like education and healthcare. - Last year when George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin a white officer, Hmong police officer Tou Thao simply stood by and watched.
While many Asian Americans called for solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, others criticized protestors for the unrest that's blanketing the country. This also isn't the first time an Asian American officer has contributed to police violence. - The judge reduced the conviction of the New York City police officer who fired a fatal shot that ricocheted inside a dark stairwell and killed an unarmed black man.
Then the judge ruled the officer will serve no jail time. It was a decision that left the officer's supporters relieved, but friends and family of victim Akai Gurley in shock. - This incident sparked a divided reaction between Asian American and black communities. With some activists arguing that Leon was unfairly scapegoated due to his race and others maintaining that the incident fell in line with a pattern of anti-black policing tactics. - We don't want to perpetuate a system that is flawed but it's also like we have nothing else to choose from.
We need accountability. We need justice and we need some type of authority. Change has to happen on the local level first.
And you have to earn that trust from the people that you're servicing. It's an ongoing conversation. I don't think it's going to be, it's going to be fixed anytime soon because there are problems.
But at the same time we do, like our community does need help, and we do need accountability. - Look the Asian American community has been internally divided on topics like law enforcement. Asian American community groups expressed concern about an Asian hate crime task force which was created October, 2020 in response to the growing number of attacks targeting Asian Americans during the pandemic. Though, it is meant to reach out to the community and defend against hate crimes.
It also places Asian Americans in the difficult position of relying on an institution that has historically criminalized black and brown communities. - I get it. People need to do what they need to do to feel safe, but what's happening now with these task forces that are being created is the anti-black rhetoric that is criminalizing a population.
There are solutions that are coming from Chinatown that are robust and strong and are not steeped in the history of racism in this country. - Not everyone in the Asian American community has the same relationship with law enforcement, especially in refugee communities with a history of mistreatment by authority figures. According to a report examining Asian American and Pacific Islanders behind bars, the prisoner population ballooned by about 250% during the 1990s.
The research said that during this period, juveniles of Asian descent were more than twice as likely to be tried as adults compared to whites. Again, these are important statistics that help paint a more accurate portrait of our communities that is ignored by the model monolithic narrative. - Jails, prisons and juvenile detention centers are packed with brown Southeast Asians and Pacific Islanders. So more policing will actually affect Asian and Pacific communities as well. I think they're really erasing a lot of Asian communities that aren't going to benefit from more policing. - To truly protect ourselves and others means facing our prejudices and addressing the core issues of systemic racism.
Now, some of that is easier said than done. And I think it's extremely important that we recognize how change doesn't happen overnight. Every minority in this country has faced racism, bias and discrimination. Just because that bigotry shows up in different forms for each community does not mean that these are unrelated battles that we are fighting. They are all part of the same larger issues that we all face, which we have seen played out time and time again. Even in the last 20 years.
The current vilification of Asian Americans is reminiscent of the scapegoating of Arabs, Muslims and South Asians. After 9/11 Hindus, Muslims, and Sikhs, many of whom were South Asian documented scores of revenge motivated crimes in the U.S. - [Man] The FBI reports, 40 hate crimes. - Being beaten up because they were brown skinned, because they were Muslim, because they were Sikh. - (beep) you and your family, you terrorist (beep).
- I'm Muslim Bangladeshi, white supremacists just see brown skin. They're not going to like attack someone because they asked what their religious affiliation is or how many times they go to the mosque in a month. When we look backwards at Asian American history what we're experiencing now is not new. - Looking at and witnessing the vilification of Asian Americans today.
I can't help but think about our own experiences. I mean, I think anybody who is marginalized. Who has dealt with racism is sensitive to what it feels like to be on the other side of it too, to really be hurt and harmed and hated. I can't help but notice that hate and xenophobia are constant undercurrents in our society. - Among the first killed were Sikh gas station owner Balbir Singh Sodhi in Arizona and Vasudev Patel and Waqar Hasan.
Two South Asians in Texas. Looking at the figures compiled by the FBI. The number of anti-Muslim hate crime incidents jumped in 2001 from 28 to 481. And though the incidents reduced since 2002 they never went back to pre 9/11 years. More recently in 2017 former president Trump placed a travel ban on seven Muslim countries, citing that terrorists were using the U.S. refugee resettlement program to enter the country. It was just racist.
- A new study shows hate crimes against Muslim Americans are at their highest levels since the weeks immediately following the September 11th attacks. - [Man] And it's my strong opposition to these people that's a recruiting tool. - In the four days immediately following Trump's call for a ban on Muslims researchers say there was an 87% increase of anti-Muslim hate crimes. - Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported there have been more than 400 incidents of harassment or intimidation. - The reasoning is proven untrue and wholly political. While the public is further stoked to embrace their xenophobia, fear and hatred.
I hate that I invoked his name, but we need to examine the repercussions of incendiary language. Failed businessman Donald J. Trump's tenure in power is the perfect example of how rhetoric can influence an entire nation.
- The Chinese virus, the China virus, China virus, Kung-flu. - [Woman] Do you think using the term Chinese virus that puts Asian Americans at risk? That people might target them? - No, no, no, not at all. I think they probably would agree with it a hundred percent.
- Well, we live in a society where we're quick to dismiss language as harmless and inconsequential, but what we ended up doing is deflecting the reality that there's a clear link between hate speech and hate violence, what we think and what we say informs our behavior, right? These, these things are interlinked. And when those thoughts and words are toxic, so becomes our society. - Trump and numerous other members of his White House staff embraced racist, anti-Asian sentiments early on in the pandemic, repeatedly referring to COVID 19 as the China virus, the Wuhan virus and Kung-flu. Now I know a lot of people continue to comment that China's government mishandled the initial outbreak but that doesn't excuse scapegoating all Asian people for the government's horrendous pandemic response. - We were suffering two pandemics as a world. One COVID and two hate against Asians.
- Tone at the top matters. And so do policies. So when our own administration is putting forward racist ideas and racist policies, of course there's going to be a surge in our communities. That's inevitable. Racism coming from the upper levels of our government is now sanctifying racism and hate for people of all kinds of backgrounds.
- Even the world health organization, warns against associating diseases with specific locations to prevent stigma and attacks. Which of course as we see are happening. In an October statement Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council said, "Our data and evidence "of the real life stories, confirm that Asian Americans "are facing increasing racist and xenophobic attacks "catalyzed by rhetoric from the president "and other government leadership." - I call it like the fear industrial complex year, fear is a tool to turn out certain types of voters during each election cycle. And it's mappable. We definitely saw it in 2016 for the presidential cycle.
- An analysis conducted by Stop AAPI Hate found that one in 10 tweets about Asian Americans by politicians contained racist or stigmatizing language related to China, in the months proceeding the 2020 election. All the racist tweets came from Republicans and 98% of them blame China for the pandemic. The research suggests that Trump's racist or stigmatizing tweets are the most influential anti-Asian American rhetoric related to the pandemic among politicians. This proves that not only do words matter but their rapid dissemination across social media is equally as consequential. - The last four years has been hand to hand combat. We've had to take on a much more protective role, a much more advocacy role to push back on legislation and public regulations that are anti-immigrant you know, anti, you know, refugees just anti people of color.
It took all of her energy, you know, and it certainly you know, also detracted from our resources to have to fight your own government off. - So why do this? Is it all to deflect blame? Let's take a step back and look at this from a geopolitical perspective. For the U.S. a long considered superpower, the threat of encroachment by mainland China leads to convenient political villainization of East Asians and any anti-Asian sentiment, only benefits this cause. - With China emerging on the global stage as a superpower along the same levels as the existing superpowers, I think that that is generating a lot of concern and a lot of fear among a lot of people. - If America is no longer top dog then some nefarious wrongdoer must be responsible.
The Asian American population becomes an inviting target for nativists, whether rich, middle-class, or poor. And a promising scapegoat for political games. This leads to verbal nastiness and assaults, which brings us back to where we are today.
- Crimes against Asian Americans have risen drastically. - [Woman] There have been more than 2,500 incidents of anti-Asian hate crime. - She said, "it's because of you people "that this is happening."
"If you don't like America, just leave." - [Man] The 75 year old woman says she was attacked unprovoked. - Fears this morning that a string of deadly shootings at massage parlors in the Atlanta area could be linked to a wave of attacks against Asian Americans. - [Woman] Eighth people are dead after shootings at three massages parlors. - Just last week on March 16th, eight people including six Asian women were murdered in a mass shooting at three different Asian employed spas in the Atlanta area.
According to Stop AAPI Hate out of the approximately 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents between March of 2020 and February of this year, Asian women were targeted 2.3 times more than men. This heinous crime exemplifies the disproportional amount of harassment and violence Asian women, particularly migrants and sex workers face when compared to their male counterparts. The intersection of factors like race, gender, and class shine a light on some of the most vulnerable in our community who have historically been abused exploited and fetishized since the 18th century. And although law enforcement has not characterized the shooter's motivations as such I will express my personal opinion that the Atlanta tragedy was indeed a hate crime.
One that is steeped in the racist history of perceiving women as sexual objects of desire. This horrific crime was only the most recent example in what is become a deeply troubling rising trend of hate directed towards our communities. - Well, the community has certainly been hit hard. I hear it from business owners that are worried the recent rash of violence, especially against our elders, just people who are going about their day to day and being assaulted on the streets. It's worrisome.
I look at those videos and I, I can see my dad or, you know my grandparents kind of in that role, it's enormously scary. - I feel really unsafe, so before I walk everywhere I walk at nighttime, no problem. I didn't have feeling afraid or anything but now so even in the morning, day time if I walk out and nobody on the street, I have a feeling afraid to somebody attack me, and now I am feeling unhappy. - Many of our family members have become afraid.
And proactive sensible solutions are needed, but the answers aren't easy and won't assuage everyone's fears. The damage done by the model minority myth that prompt us up as a racial wedge also erased the vast diversity of Asian experience that exists outside of the educated, submissive and economically mobile stereotype. Although we're constantly clumped together, the Asian American community is fast and distinct and it's not just our ethnicities and nationalities.
There's also huge schisms and perspective when it comes to our hometowns, our age, our gender our sexual orientation, our education, and our income. - People look at Asians at an aggregate level and they see highest earners per household, highest graduates of college, so forth and so on. They think, "Oh, they're good."
The problem is, as you know we actually have the widest income disparity of any community in this country. We're not only the top 10%, we're actually the bottom 10% as well. - You only hear about the wealthy few, but the disparity between the traumatized refugee communities and the other flip side I've been here for three generations. - Most Asian Americans are foreign born, and some are recent arrivals with limited English. Non-English speakers tend to be less wealthy, more socially conservative and have less formal education.
While on the whole Asian Americans have the highest levels of educational attainment. It varies widely by ethnic subgroup. For example, 73% of Korean Americans ages 18 to 24 are enrolled in college, but only 44% of those with origins in the Philippines are.
The data also highlights that 37% of Asian Americans who take the GED test do not pass. - So our center is very focused on serving people that have language barriers. We work with them primarily to make sure that they're getting what they need in order to sustain at least, you know a minimum standard of living and to just stay healthy. - I have to learn English as much as possible because because of the knowledge I have, but then no language to express my idea and my knowledge. And I think that's very bit challenging. - That reminds me, I've got a quick bone to pick.
Just because English isn't someone's first or only language doesn't make them slower or less intelligent than you. Imagine if the majority of information you're receiving about what's happening in your country is delivered and discussed in an entirely different tongue. Think about that. Many Asian immigrants and our elders experience this linguistic hurdle daily.
So, if you've ever mocked someone's accent or been angered that they don't understand what you're saying, just know that a person who's trying their best to communicate with their second, third maybe fourth language is far more impressive than your ignorance to anything outside of basic English. You're basic. - So the problems that one part of our community is facing they get grouped into, "Oh, well, you guys are crazy rich." Or, "You guys are super educated and well-off."
Basically all the needs of a huge part of the population doesn't get any recognition or it doesn't get any help. It's good for us to recognize that the Asian diaspora is not just one shade. And the sooner we can kind of acknowledge that and celebrate that, I think that'll serve our community in a better way. - That is why things like the media and entertainment are so important when it comes to representation.
Because when you see Asian Americans constantly being pushed down or completely erased in Hollywood, it pisses us off, because the only things that rise to the top, through white gatekeepers are stories that extend the model minority mythology. - It's only 19,000 a month. - [Man] This one or the black one? - This is perfect for hiking.
- [Woman] Less is more. - You're definitely not a ho? - Why? - More is more. (upbeat music) - Of course, we go shopping in the Rolls-Royce. Is there any other mode of transportation? - You haven't finished your nuggets yet, sweetie. Okay, there's a lot of children starving in America, right? - When that's the kind of perception that you have of the Asian community, how and why wouldn't you harbor those stereotypes as well? - Real talk, although there are exceptions when will Asian narratives be ubiquitous enough that we don't feel the need to present as exemplary? When will we have enough space to simply exist and be mediocre or plain, or just plain stupid? And when the hell will y'all stop boiling down our entire motivation to filial piety and honor. - She has brought honor to her ancestors.
- With honor. - You have your honor again. - Devotion to family. - Because the more that singular exemplary image is perpetuated the less we are aware of the majority of Asian American experience. We often take this with a grain of salt, because we are happy for any representation.
And let's be clear. Many Asians, myself included have played into this sparkling image too, but it continues to create an unattainable, impossible standard for ourselves and other minority groups. - So, what Gold House and Cape are doing through punctuating, affirming and positive and authentic portrayals of our people through media. What we're doing by empowering small medium sized businesses.
This is about showing people that when they see us they don't think stereotypical math. They don't think crimes. And they think murder. Instead, they think of a meaningful human being who has always been here.
Who's always been valuable and who's going to continue to be so. - And I think that this is a time of real introspection for us, really taking the time to educate ourselves about the struggles of other communities. - The wide array of viewpoints on this and other issues need to be acknowledged, because not every Asian American has the same opinion or the same story. - You know, for better or worse we and my mom get into a lot of these conversations because, and we certainly have, we have the same heart, but a completely different perspective.
I think that we have to remember it's generational. It's decades of instilling this obedience. So, we can't expect overnight that that's going to go away. I have experience with both sides of the coin. I have experience with really like enough is enough. There's no way we're going to just sit down and take this.
And then you have on the other side who feel lost, who feel unheard, who feel invisible. - This isn't true for everyone, but many of us can feel an ideological divide brewing at home. For instance, nationwide data suggests that about 54% of Asian Americans overall supported Biden. But when you look at the divide of Democrats and Republicans between age groups we see a sustained shift towards embracing left leaning beliefs compared to previous generations. - I don't agree with, but I get why our parents have this prejudice.
To not understand what our parents are thinking it's kind of, you know, naive too. - But it's up to me to go and have those conversations with people who look like me and it's up to you to go and have those conversations, those painful conversations and be consistent about those conversations with people who look like you. We need to do the research and study and meditation and prayer that is going to take to consistently be in conversation with our family and friends to shift the dynamics. - Socially conscious TikToks are great, don't get me wrong.
But it pales in comparison to the universally difficult task of constantly engaging in person. It's tough talking to a family member or friend who not only sees things differently but might also avoid speaking about issues altogether. I just don't understand why you don't say any of this when we were growing up. - I'm not very proud to talk about it. - Yeah, but I just feel like you didn't have to go through that by yourself all the time.
- Well, I waisted all that. Makes a strong person, but other side make you very weak. - While we can educate ourselves and become the change. It doesn't guarantee that it will come as easily to others. Especially if they're from an older generation. - Conversation is such an underrated part of activism.
I feel like a lot of people aren't open to having conversation and genuine conversation. I feel like so many people, especially with like Twitter and like platforms where a nuance can be stripped completely. People are so quick to argue.
When you want to form true solidarity it's so important to ask questions, but also listen. - Today's public discourse around anti-Asian violence was spurred by attacks on our elders. So, it is crucial that we hear and learn why some of them might hold different perspectives. - The younger generation has begun to realize that the only way to have any political capital in this country is to participate in the electoral process.
This is a country that encourages people to speak out. Unless we stand up for ourselves our issues are going to be consistently overlooked as they always have. - It's not going to happen in one conversation. You have to show them over time, because you know what? They've been given this for decades.
So, of course undoing it is not going to happen over one, like micron moment, one argument with your parents. - You won't believe the invaluable insights that you will derive from engaging your parents and even your grandparents, because so many of them come from cultures that did not encourage communication. - This is why we need to talk about things like anti-Asian hate. Starting within our own homes. You will be so surprised at what you can learn from your parents.
Some hard sobering truths and what they begin to learn from your more cross-cultural perspective. Thanks to the internet. Your life includes so many more voices that they can't access as easily. And this is another form of translation, for you to explain the complicated world today.
- Yes, we do have political differences. - I don't like committees, because I have experience with the communist regime. When I was in North Vietnam. Even, I was little, I remember everything, bad things they do for people. Everything in United States, we got the freedom. We got everything, like a life here.
Life Saigon before 1975, and look like a life here. - My mom and like her family, living in a communist world and being seen what America is now and seeing like, well we don't want to disrupt anything, right? 'Cause this is exactly what we were. So, any candidate, politic, policy that triggers even a slight tingle of communists speak, they're like, no. - But age isn't the only factor.
A 2018 survey of AAPI data found that party identification varies greatly by origin group. For example, 42% of Vietnamese Americans identify as Republican while 22% of Asian Americans as a whole do, by contrast 50% of Indian Americans identify as Democrats which is the most of any Asian origin group. What isn't included in this data is the individual reasoning behind these affiliations. And how for some immigrants, especially if there's already a language barrier present a long, sometimes painful history unique to their country of origin, like Vietnam, informs their political views more than say the plight of contemporary America. - I don't think people see themselves as doing anything wrong. I think they see themselves as surviving.
I think they see themselves as trying to belong, trying to fit in, and it creates great strife and harm and danger and threat to many, many millions of people - This threat of refusing to hear or empathize with marginalized voices is something that this video is trying to address. The imperative need for us to stand up and speak out. And one way we know that's the most effective is to amplify our voices through the power of voting and representation. For years, Asian Americans have been written off by both Democrats and Republicans as a small group of infrequent voters.
We have become the country's fastest growing population of eligible voters. As Asians have naturalized fairly rapidly and then registered to vote. - But Asian Americans still vote at a far lesser degree than other demographics. And it's part of the fabric of Asian culture, just to suck it up and overcome and not raise a stink about that. And I think what we're all recognizing is that if we don't cause a stink, if we don't speak up if we don't stand up for each other, no one else will. - Our influence expanded to presidential politics this cycle.
Beginning in the democratic primary race. For the first time three Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders sought a major party's nomination for president, president Biden even signed an executive order in January, addressing inequality and systemic racism, as well as denouncing discrimination against AAPI communities. - Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans. Who've been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.
At this very moment so many of them, our fellow Americans, they're on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives. And still, still are forced to live in fear for their lives. Just walking down streets in America, it's wrong. It's un-American and it must stop.
- But the work doesn't stop there. - There's no single law, there's no single executive order that can address the challenges that are being faced. It's a good that president Biden is attentive to this issue, but the ability for us to address this type of discrimination and hate needs to be worked at at every single level of government together, as well as working with the communities.
I want to make sure that that we're not putting all the responsibility on any single person. This is on all of us. - Over the last two decades as our numbers grew, we amassed enough power to help decide some tightly contested house races in districts with high Asian populations. Our vote was considered vital for the Georgia runoff. Where the number of Asian registered voters in the Atlanta area grew by 55% from 2016 to 2020.
Still Biden's administration came under criticism for failing to name a single cabinet secretary of AAPI descent, even though it is shaping up to be the most diverse in U.S. history. - There's always work that needs to be done. Even if we had multiple Asian American cabinet secretaries. There's never going to be a time where we can just you know, make assumptions that other people will recognize our value to the society. We always need to make sure we're pushing. - This change doesn't stop at representation in public office, nor is that our ultimate goal, but simply a stepping stone.
This is a movement that like many before it works most effectively from the ground up. Local, grassroots organizations that focus on providing direct support and education for communities is where you can see effective change happening in real time. - Well, look, what's been happening to Asians here in this country and around the world has been devastating, but also galvanizing. I have never seen as many Asians on social media in the media, in communities wanting to do something, wanting to make a change, wanting to engage in the process.
And I hope that this persists because for too long the Asian community has, I think kept their heads down. - As history shows Asian Americans and all minorities stand to gain more working within communities and across the lines of race. As the U.S. sees mass uprisings against racial injustice and police brutality some see a chance to continue to grow in solidarity.
- Really important for us to really stand back, not blame like a community of people right now for, you know being violent, because we've been taught that black people are violent, and actually look at our communities and work together and build relationships. That's harder than just vilifying someone. - You have to be careful about how you receive what's being put in national media, because it always portrays a black person victimizing an Asian person. And that's not always the whole story. - We have to remember a lot of us are angry right now, and we want to snap back and, you know, rightfully so.
I mean, if you see our elders being attacked and assaulted naturally as human beings, you know how do you sit there and just take that? While we're moving through the pain and healing with each other, standing with each other so that we can stop this. - Although I've presented some stark realities about how hard it might be to engage with our own families and communities, many Asian Americans have found creative ways to do so. And you can too. - Because we feel that we want a different world, it is our responsibility to do the political education to do the work together across generation, across race for people who get it and want to create a new reality.
- What we're seeing with white supremacy is they're using fear as their tactic, and I think to counter fear as a tactic, we really have to use joy. We can't out fear fear, we have to out joy fear. (crowd singing) - Ultimately it is important to recognize that the ways in which we respond to these horrific anti-Asian attacks will not only reflect upon our own history, but also shape the future of the next generation of Asian America and other communities. Anti-Asian sentiments are nothing new and racism will continue to rear its ugly head in the future.
But we have an opportunity now, today to recognize how institutional mythologies continue to drive apart marginalized groups who are more powerful when standing together, than struggling apart. Now is the time to break the cycle. - One of the greatest tricks of racism is how isolated it makes us feel. So, while there are clear differences in the nature of the racism we encounter, it's a shared struggle. And it's something that we all have to be invested in in order to get to a better place.
- As we've learned, part of the unique problems that Asian Americans have faced involve multiple factors. A history of being wrongfully associated with disease. The blaming of immigrant groups during economic scarcity. The pervasive and destructive model minority myth, and the fact that many constantly still have to defend that they belong. This expectation for us to remain silent and abide by the rules is another way in which we've been made to feel invisible, but no more.
Great, outspoken change is happening right now. - Asians for... - [Crowd] Black lives! - [Man] Sounds of change echoing across America.
- Asian Americans have found a new kinship with the black American struggle for social justice. - Our Korean brothers and sisters, we would like you to know, history don't have to repeat itself. - When you look at the people in the Black Lives Matter march, you'll see huge diversity in that crowd. That's our next generation. And they are of the same mind.
That's where I get my hope from. - I feel like for older generations the idea was very much like, "Oh let's put our differences aside and work together." What I'm personally seeing with like younger activists is that were saying more like, let's recognize the different experiences that we have in this country, but still work together. - We are the ones who have to reach across communities and miles to ask others how can we be supportive of you and your community. But also rectify the immediate ills that our community is facing. - [Man] It can't just be this one period of time that we care about you know, spreading awareness, amplifying our needs, it has to be on our minds all t