Youth Blog: This Year In Anti-asian Racism

A non-comprehensive overview

By Erika Chung

CONTENT ADVISORY: Mention of violence, foul language

An oppressive onslaught of anti-Asian hate crimes greeted the one-year “anniversary” of the COVID-19 pandemic. Video footage of elderly East Asians being brutally beaten, injured and assaulted spread like wildfire online. It seemed as if every day, there was a new news story covering the latest Asian hate crime. Soon, reports of anti-Asian incidents spread to local communities, with Metro Vancouver area attacks increasing in both prominence and publicity. Younger Asians are beginning to fear for their safety, wondering “Am I or my grandparents next?”

This thought passed through my head as I shuffled through my newspaper and swiped through my social media feeds. As an Asian-Canadian teen, I am part of the minority targeted by these hate crimes. However, I feel disconnected from the crimes committed against the community I was born into. I am quite literally lost in translation — I neither speak nor write the mother tongue of my grandparents — and I hear the hardships of the Asian community from an outsider’s perspective. Because of this, I’ve recognized the importance of self-education, and having open ears and an open mind. While researching online, I initially found the “First National Anti-Asian Racism Report,” then the follow-up “A Year of Racist Attacks” report a couple months later. Both reports were written by public Asian organizations, and are connected to public databases that benefit the whole community. I continue to strive to understand this community, a process I hope will bring me closer to my Asian roots. My research for this article stems from that deep desire to learn about the Asian community, as told by Asian voices. 


Timeline

February 4, 2021 – Graphic Video of Elderly Man Being Pushed to Ground

Video surveillance catches a 91-year-old man being forcefully pushed to the ground in Oakland, California’s Chinatown. The same day, the perpetrator also attacked a 55-year-old woman and a 60-year-old man. 

February 27, 2021 – Deadly Assault on Elderly Thai Man

Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84, was violently knocked to the ground in a fatal attack in San Francisco, California. He would later develop a brain hemorrhage and die in hospital.

March 16, 2021 – Atlanta Shootings

8 people (including 6 Asian women) are killed inside spas in the Atlanta, Georgia, area by gunman Robert Aaron Long. He told police that he carried out his violent rampage to eliminate his “sexual addiction.”

The victims were Delaina Ashley Yaun, 33; Paul Andre Michels, 54; Xiaojie Tan, 49; Daoyou Feng, 44; Soon Chung Park, 74; Suncha Kim, 69; Yong Ae Yue, 63; Hyun Jung Grant, 51 and Elcias R Hernandez-Ortiz, 30 (seriously injured). 

March 21, 2021 – Woman Struck on Face with Metal Pipe

A woman was assaulted in Manhattan’s Lower East Side by a man who yelled “I came to f*** up Asians!” She would later need stitches. 

March 27, 2021 – Korean UBC Student Attacked on Campus

The victim was punched in the head in the stomach after the attacker used a racial term before assaulting her. 

March 28, 2021 – Anti-Asian Racism Rally

Rallies in solidarity against anti-Asian racism are held across Canada (Penticton, the Tri-Cities, Toronto, Montreal and Calgary), with Vancouver’s rally occurring outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. Hundreds show up, masked and carrying posters, at the Vancouver rally. 

March 29, 2021 – Coffee Shop Incident

At a Richmond coffee shop, an employee who asked a customer to maintain social distance was verbally assaulted by the customer who said “F*** you Chinese.” Coffee was also thrown at her.

April 1, 2021 – Arden Cho Verbally Assaulted While Walking Her Dog

A stranger threatens to kill Cho and her dog in an incident that prompted her to share her traumatic experience and pleas to #StopAsianHate on social media.  

April 22, 2021 – US Senate Passes Anti-Asian Hate Crime Bill

With a vote of 94-1, senators passed a bill focused on raising awareness of hate crimes and setting up virtual reporting systems for those crimes.


A Year of Racist Attacks: Anti-Asian Racism Across Canada One Year Into the COVID-19 Pandemic – Report

The Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter released “A Year of Racist Attacks,” a government-funded report documenting Anti-Asian racism one year into the pandemic. This follows the First National Anti-Asian Racism Report released on September 9, 2020. As with the previous report, incidents were reported through covidracism.ca and elimin8hate.org. These websites are anonymous community reporting services created by local nonprofits.

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Protesters at an Anti-Asian Hate Rally in Washington, DC

Quick Statistics

  • Between March 10th, 2020 and February 28, 2021, 1150 incidents of anti-Asian racism were reported 
  • 50% of all incidents occurred in public spaces (roads, parks), followed by 20% occurring in food sector areas (restaurants, grocery stores)
  • 73% of victims reported that mental distress/emotional harm was a consequence of the racists attack, by far the most common type of response

Actual Reports

  • “Asian man was going into the Quality Inn during a business trip. In the parking lot as he was going in, two men asked him for money. He said that he didn’t have any, at which point they said “Why don’t you give us some money for that s*** [COVID-19] you brought over to Canada?” then lunged at him.”
  • “Two males in their late 20s/early 30s attacked me from behind during my morning walk. They kicked me repeatedly for a couple of minutes, while shouting at me to go back to China with the COVID-19 virus that I brought.”
  • “Will it get to the point that I will one day need to escape from my beloved Canada to save my life?…Very painful to feel hated by everyone in one’s home country.”

In an interview with CBC, VPD Const. Byron remarked on the increases in anti-Asian hatred, “I’ve had more people approach me talking about fears of the neighbourhood, fears of walking through here, fears of having their elderly family members walk through here. There’s a lot more fear now.”

I’ve had more people approach me talking about fears of the neighbourhood, fears of walking through here, fears of having their elderly family members walk through here. There’s a lot more fear now.

This fear is one that resonates with many Asians, not only in Vancouver. The hashtag #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate trended on social media, with posts in support of the movement surging as racist incidents garnered more international attention. 

The prevalence of anti-Asian racism has only increased within the last year. From hate crimes to more subtle racist remarks, reports flow in daily of incidents from Asians of all ages and gender identities. News stories and the Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter’s report serve as a chilling reminder that anti-Asian racism is a widespread and festering issue.


Reference List

Anthistle, M. (2021, April 25). Hidden Hate: Younger generations call out disturbing rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/7785233/anti-asian-hate-crimes-racism/.

BBC. (2021, March 22). Atlanta spa shootings: Who are the victims? BBC News. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-56446771.

Brinkley, L. (2021, February 9). Suspect arrested in attack on 91-year-old in Oakland’s Chinatown, police say. ABC7 San Francisco. https://abc7news.com/chinatown-push-91-year-old-pushed-to-ground-opd-suspect-oakland-attacks/10322263/#:~:text=Oakland’s%20newest%20police%20chief%20announced,caught%20on%20camera%20in%20Chinatown.

Brisco, E. (2021, April 2). ‘I’m still shaking’: ‘Teen Wolf’ star Arden Cho details how racist attack sparked childhood trauma. USA Today. https://www.usatoday.com/story/entertainment/celebrities/2021/04/02/teen-wolf-arden-cho-reveals-details-recent-anti-asian-attack/4850534001/.

Chinese Canadian National Council Toronto Chapter. (2021). Covid Racism Final Report. Toronto.
Fuller, T. (2021, February 27). He Came From Thailand to Care For Family. Then Came a Brutal Attack. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/27/us/asian-american-hate-crimes.html.

Haig, T. (2021, March 26). New report finds anti-Asian racist incidents on the rise in Canada. RCI. https://www.rcinet.ca/en/2021/03/24/new-report-finds-anti-asian-racist-incidents-on-the-rise-in-canada/.

Home. Stop AAPI Hate. (2021, May 5). https://stopaapihate.org/.

Hong, D., & Alden, C. (2021, March 30). Korean UBC student attacked Saturday in University Village, RCMP not ruling out ‘bias or hate’ motives. The Ubyssey. https://www.ubyssey.ca/news/korean-student-attacked-sat-night/.

Lui, S. (2021, April 25). Hidden Hate: Exposing the roots of anti-Asian racism in Canada. Global News. https://globalnews.ca/news/7784170/hidden-hate-exposing-the-roots-of-anti-asian-racism-in-canada/.

The New York Times. (2021, March 26). 8 Dead in Atlanta Spa Shootings, With Fears of Anti-Asian Bias. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/03/17/us/shooting-atlanta-acworth.

Ramachandran, V. (2021, March 18). What you can do to fight violence and racism against Asian Americans. PBS. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/what-you-can-do-to-fight-violence-and-racism-against-asian-americans.

Rayman, G. (2021, March 22). ‘I came here to f— up Asians’: Woman hit in face with metal pipe in latest Manhattan hate crime. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/crime/i-came-here-to-f-up-asians-woman-hit-in-face-with-metal-pipe-in-latest-manhattan-hate-crime/ar-BB1eQ1br.

Rogers, A. (2021, April 23). Senate overwhelmingly passes anti-Asian hate crimes bill. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2021/04/22/politics/senate-vote-hate-crimes-bill/index.html.

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