A Japanese jazz pianist was trying to get to his New York City home one September night when he was brutally attacked by eight teens.
He suffered fractures in his right arm and shoulder, a broken collarbone, and bruises all over his body and head. He has not been able to play the piano since the attack. He told The New York Times he remembers at least one of the teens calling him Chinese and using a profanity.
In late 2019, the first case of novel coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, China. Since then, the world has seen more than 52 million cases and more than 1.2 million deaths.
COVID-19 has put all Americans in harm’s way, but it has made life particularly unsafe for the Asian American community. We need to do something about this.
Hate crimes and microaggressions against those in the Asian American community have increased since the beginning of the pandemic. More than 2,000 race-related hate incidents against Asian Americans were reported between March and June. That’s reported incidents. No one knows for sure how many incidents have gone unreported.
Asian Americans live in a constant loop of microaggressions and hate because of ignorance and racism. Incumbent President Donald J. Trump’s rhetoric has further incited anti-Asian sentiments.
When an Asian American reporter, Weijia Jiang of CBS News, asked Trump a question in May about his handling of the pandemic, he responded by blaming China: “Maybe that is a question you should ask China. Don’t ask me. Ask China that question.”
Trump continually relies on aggressive language when describing the virus. He has compared himself to a wartime president fighting an unseen enemy. His word choices villainize Chinese Americans as the enemy and encourage hatred toward them.
Calling COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” is a racist microaggression that directly hurts Asian Americans and it fuels mistrust and hatred.
Unfortunately, anti-Asian racism is not new in the United States, and history tends to repeat itself. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited the immigration of all Chinese laborers; that law wasn’t repealed until 1943.
In 2020, however, it’s abundantly clear that Asian Americans are fighting two pandemics: anti-Asian racism and a deadly virus.
Noemi Bueno is in grade 11 at Garden Spot High School.