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A call for unity among Asians in fighting hatred

By LIA ZHU in San Francisco | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-08-11 10:19

A woman holds a placard as she participates in a Stop Asian Hate rally at Columbus Park in New York, April 3, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

Asian consuls general in San Francisco joined California elected officials at a virtual forum to show solidarity with Asian American communities, calling on people of Asian descent to stand up against racism. 

The consuls general from eight Asian countries, including China, Japan, South Korea, India and Vietnam, expressed concerns about the rising racism and hate crimes against Asian people in the US and urged the federal and state governments to take concrete measures to address the problem.

"Throughout the American history, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have made an indelible contribution to the development of the United States. They deserve due recognition and respect and not hate or discrimination," said Chinese Consul General in San Francisco Wang Donghua at the forum hosted by Asia Society Northern California on Monday.

The root cause for the anti-Asian hate is the racial discrimination against people of color in the US, and the "fertile ground" for discrimination and prejudice against Asians is yet to be eradicated, said Wang. The scapegoating of Chinese people for the COVID-19 pandemic by some politicians has exacerbated the hate against Asians, he added. 

He also noted that it was encouraging that President Joe Biden signed into law a bill that is aimed at countering the rising anti-Asian hate crimes, and that California Governor Gavin Newsom signed the $156.5 million Asian and Pacific Islander Equity Budget to address the rise in hate incidents.

"As a member of the Asian consular community, we appreciate the solidarity that California officials have demonstrated against Asian hate. We urge the US federal government and those states who haven't done so to take actions to stop Asian hate, bring perpetrators to justice, ensure the security of all Asians and address the root cause by eradicating the soil for discrimination against Asians and other ethnic groups in the United States," said Wang.

California state Senator Dave Min and Assembly member Phil Ting, both of Asian descent, said anti-Asian racism is a long-existing problem in the US and shared their own stories of growing up in California.

California is a state that tends to be more diverse and more receptive to Asian Americans than other parts of the country, but Ting said his upbringing always made him feel like an outsider.

"I was always feeling that I was a minority, my parents were immigrants, so I never quite fit in," said Ting. He said he didn't understand how to articulate that outsider feeling until he took Asian American studies at high school.

"This is something that was much larger than one individual spewing hate at me as I was growing up. This was something that was part of our societal fabric, that there were laws on the books that created this otherness, that there were structures in place to make sure that there were systemic racist policies that were put forward," said Ting, who sees the teaching of Asian American history and ethnic studies as a solution. 

"The history of anti-Asian hate and racism is pretty well established in this country. But for those of us who've lived here and grew up here, while we've been accustomed to anti-Asian hate, I think we've been surprised by the depth and breadth and intensity of the anti-Asian hate that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic," said Min.

"These types of incidents, even if they're not violent, can be deeply unsettling and frightening to those of Asian descent," he said.

According to Stop AAPI Hate, from March 2020 to March 2021, the self-reporting platform received 6,603 reports of hate incidents nationwide, and 2,640 of these incidents were reported from California.

"If you're not at the table, you're on the menu. I think that's been the case with Asian Americans for too long," said Min. "Without our robust Asian American presence, which we still need to grow, we would not have gotten that kind of attention," he said.

If education is a long-term solution, the immediate action that Asian American communities need to take is to "be vocal in calling it out and confronting and condemning", said Min.

"We need to make sure that being racist against Asian Americans or anyone else can't be tolerated. But to do that, we need those silent majority people to stop being silent and to stand up and to loudly denounce hate with us. We need our white allies, our black allies or brown allies to step up and call this out," he said.

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