AES Statement Against Anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander Violence

Submitted by Ellen Palms on
Stand up against anti-Asian hatred, misogyny and violence -- Seattle Times 
Asian Americans’ economic inequality is violence, too -- Seattle Times
How white supremacy, racist myths fuel anti-Asian violence -- UW News

The Department of American Ethnic Studies at the University of Washington (Seattle) condemns the rise of hate crimes spewing across the nation specifically targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islander Americans (AAPI).  Nationally, AAPIs have been fighting against two pandemic crises in public health, COVID-19 and hate. 

The scapegoating and targeting of BIPOCs is nothing new.  Since the arrival of the Chinese during the mid-19th century to the United States, AAPIs have confronted racism.  Unfortunately, during national crises, hate crimes against AAPIs have consistently risen in this country.  Consider the historical scapegoating which led to the mass incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII, the murder of Vincent Chin during the Detroit auto crisis, and the murder of Balbir Singh Sodhi and other South Asians immediately following 9-11.

This time, the current COVID-19 global pandemic and the surge of anti-Asian sentiments, hate crimes and targeted attacks increased after our former nation's leader cited it as the "Chinese Virus" and "Kung Flu." Since then, AAPI small businesses have plummeted even before state-wide stay home orders. According to the National Nurses United, at least 67 Filipino registered nurses have died — a staggering 31% of all nursing deaths, even though Filipinos make up only 4% of registered nurses in the United States. Currently, Pacific Islanders rank third in terms of coronavirus deaths, behind Native Americans and African Americans, even though their population numbers are far smaller.

According to Stop AAPI Hate which tracks anti-Asian American and Pacific Islander attacks, there have been more than 3,000 recorded anti-AAPI attacks nationwide since March, when the COVID-19 pandemic exploded onto U.S. shores. In contrast, in the year prior, there were only 100 such incidents reported. In Washington state, from March 2020-December 2020, there were 542 hate crimes reported – the second largest number per capita in the nation. 

As alarming as these numbers are, we know AAPI hate crimes are undercounted.  A federal report released at the end of February 2021, warned that at least 40% of hate crimes and bias-motivated incidents went unreported to authorities, and that victims commonly said it's a low priority for police to investigate.  This indifference by law enforcement is coupled by white supremacist attitudes that perpetuate the myth of Asians as a “model minority” who are more successful than Blacks or Latinx.  This myth, long disproven but still propagandized, has been consistently used by white Americans to pit and separate AAPIs from other BIPOC, and to justify institutional racism.  

Similarly, while we recognize the need for public safety, it should not come at the expense of over-policing communities - that is not the answer. In AES, we understand first-hand how overcriminalization disproportionately impacts communities of color.  We must seek alternative solutions in ensuring safety, building trust between communities, and fully resource ourselves to address the systemic issues perpetuating the cycle of violence. Such recommendations require nuance, long-term commitments, and looking at the issue with a holistic lens. We are ready to be a part of that conversation.

The slew of aggressive hate crimes and stigmatization against people of Asian and Pacific descent have created detrimental consequences for the AAPI communities.  We implore local, state, and national leaders to provide real, long-term assistance to the AAPI communities.

Help end this cycle of violence.