Overheard in classrooms across the country....
“I don’t like China or Chinese people because they started this quarantine.”
- Second grader in a Zoom call, Orange County, CA.
“You want to go to a wet market together and get corona?”
- Classmate asks Limin Li, 17, a Chinese American student in Brooklyn, NY
“Are you from Wuhan? Do you guys eat bats?”
Classmates ask Shi Yan Liu, 16, a Chinese American student in Brooklyn.
"Ching chong! You have Chinese virus!"
- A group of high school boys, as they followed a 14-year-old student
while they pretended to cough on him in Dallas, TX.
"(Your) insides are full of 'f---ing bats" and that they should kill themselves
because they are a "dirty f---ing dog eater."
- Told to a 17-year-old over social media.
“Hey chink, go back to where you came from.”
- Shouted to an 18-year-old who was grocery shopping.
Why is Anti-Asian Violence Rising?
According to multiple reports and studies by the Anti-defamation League, Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate and many other organizations, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Asians and people of Asian descent have been targets of derogatory language in media reports and statements by politicians as well as on social media platforms, where anti-Asian violence and hate speech related to COVID-19 also appears to have spread extensively.
Anti-Asian Violence & Mistreatment in Schools
In school settings students have not only spoken blatantly about disliking Chinese people, but there have been violent anti-Asian physical attacks, too.
Before Los Angeles public schools shut campuses in mid-March, bullies in the San Fernando Valley accused a 16-year-old Asian boy of having the coronavirus simply because of his race. They beat him badly enough to send him to the emergency room.
Anti-Asian Violence: A Broad Societal Problem
The racism in schools mirrors a broader societal problem of coronavirus-related racism toward Asians. Media reports have described people of Asian descent being coughed or spat upon, pushed, or punched.
In March, a man at a Sam’s Club in Midland, TX, thought a Burmese family was spreading the coronavirus and slashed them with a knife. A man in Texas reported: “A truck drove by and threw a [fast food franchise] drink on my back and yelled ‘Hey chink, you’re f---ing nasty.’” In another instance, an Asian-American waiting for a bus said a man “began berating me. I ignored him … [then] an object of substantial weight was thrown at me with high velocity – missing me but impacting the side of the bus with a sickening ‘thwack.’ Instantly, I sobered to an awareness in the amount of trauma the object would have caused if it had struck my head.” When an elderly woman was pushed violently on a street in Brooklyn, NY, it took actress Olivia Munn calling attention to it to get an arrest.
These are some of the anti-Asian violence stories revealed in a new youth-led study showing that one-quarter of Asian American young adults have been the targets of racism over the past year.
The report details the emotional toll of growing anti-Asian sentiment around the country. Nearly 8 of 10 respondents expressed anger over the epidemic of hate against Asians. The findings come from nearly 1,000 interviews of Asian American young adults conducted by a team of 87 Asian American high school students this summer.
An important takeaway is that students are very clued in to the issues and increasingly worried about what will happen when in-person schooling starts again.
Through their research, the students found that in addition to the racism they experienced themselves, Asian American youths have also been affected by the growing racism around the country, fueled by racist rhetoric, such as calling the coronavirus the "China virus" and "kung flu." Nearly half of those interviewed expressed sadness or depression about the situation, and one-quarter said they were scared for themselves and their families.
What is the Solution to Anti-Asian Violence?
Several state and local governments have set up hotlines and directed authorities to investigate cases of attacks, and many organizations have created training for students and citizens, like the ADL’s anti-bias lesson plan “Coronavirus and Infections Racism”, and Apex for Youth’s mentorship program that prepares Asian AMerican students for coronavirus-related racism.
How STOMP Out Bullying is Addressing Anti-Asian Violence
The STOMP Out Bullying approach remains the same: Change the Culture and End the Hate. Any discrimination, bullying, violence or physical harm is unacceptable, and we provide a guide to those being bullied, anti-bullying training in schools, and resourced for those experiencing all forms of discrimination, hatred and voilence.
We urge kindness and compassion at all times, and especially as people of Asian descent are experiencing heinous treatment ranging from microaggressions to life threatening violence.
Let’s all speak out against mistreatments, and let's remember that we are all people facing difficulties together.
And let’s have the grace that the below second grader had, to be real, to be honest and to seek togetherness in response to another second grader stating “I don’t like China or Chinese people because they started this quarantine”:
After hearing these words, a Chinese American girl in the class later wrote a handwritten note that her mother posted on Facebook. “This made me feel sad because he’s my friend and I’m Chinese. When you say that you don’t like Chinese people, you’re saying that you do not like me. I did not start this virus. Thank you for being my friend.”
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