Post submitted by Viet Tran (he/him/they/them), former HRC Press Secretary
As a community, I am calling on all of us to raise our voices and to act intentionally in response to the rise in anti-Asian violence, discrimination and racism facing Asian and Pacific Islanders across the country.
Since the start of the global pandemic in March 2020, StopAAPIHate, a center that tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment and child bullying against the API community, has reported over 3,700 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For New York, the state’s hate crime task force noted a nine fold increase in investigated incidents in 2020 compared to the previous year.
The horrific fact is that Asian and Pacific Islanders are experiencing discrimination, physical assault and verbal harassment at historically high rates.
While Trump’s racist and divisive language in the early days of the pandemic calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” or “kung flu” only further placed the Asian and Pacific Islander community at risk of violence and discrimination, we must note that anti-Asian sentiment is not unfamiliar to the API community or the history of our country.
Bias and discrimination manifest in different ways as members of our community have intersectional identities that will often compound our experiences and the challenges we face every day.
Being born abroad and growing up speaking English as a second language, the xenophobia I have experienced in my life as an immigrant and as it relates to COVID-19 is familiar and continually heartbreaking. I still remember Trump’s callous comments when he told four congresswomen of color to “go back” to where they came from. Unfortunately, many of us are all too familiar with the line “go back to your country,” a hateful catchphrase throughout American history.
As a queer person, I know that LGBTQ people have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. LGBTQ people are more vulnerable to the health risks of COVID-19 and often more likely to work jobs in highly-affected industries — with data released this week by the HRC Foundation showing that 24% of LGBTQ people of color are currently unemployed due to the pandemic, compared to 13% of the general population.
The truth is that those who are living at the intersection of being LGBTQ, Asian American and an immigrant while confronting a surge in anti-Asian hate and violence are facing a multi-fronted battle to live their lives openly and safely in this country.
Yet, while many of us hold multiple identities that often compound our experiences, it also means we can and must create community, build allyship and organize coalitions in response to all forms of discrimination and racism.
If American history has taught us anything, it is that racism and discrimination are not new. But throughout the course of history, there have been those who fought for justice who taught us that movements for equality are stronger and more powerful when we include all of us.
When our entire country mobilized and protested following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others Black and Black trans lives at the hands of senseless police violence and brutality, I knew exactly what to write on my protest poster: “Yellow Peril Supports Black Power.” As an Asian American, this was my personal stance in solidarity with and for racial justice.
If we are talking about fighting for justice, equality and liberation, it’s critical and necessary that all of us are a part of the fight.
In the face of anti-Asian racism, violence and discrimination today, I am urgently calling for our communities to stand up together, speak out and remain united against hate.
I recall what President Joe Biden recently said during his first prime-time address in which he spotlighted the “vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated,” and declared “it’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”
We must remain united against hate because as Biden said so succinctly, what is happening to Asian and Pacific Islanders across the country must stop -- and we must be a part of stopping it.