“There is no room for hate in our American family.”
Gov. Phil Murphy tweeted that sentiment last week as he condemned the March 16 shootings at three Asian spas in Atlanta that claimed eight lives, six of them Asian American women.
While we still don’t know the exact motive behind the shootings, it doesn’t change the fact that anti-Asian racism and violence has been on the rise in our country since COVID-19 took hold last March.
It’s not acceptable, and it needs to stop.
If they weren’t already on edge before last week’s shooting, many of our Asian neighbors are now. Many have experienced incidents of harassment and discrimination in our own communities, and ignoring that fact is not only shameful, it’s dangerous.
Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting center tracking and responding to incidents of hate toward Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, was launched last year after the rise in xenophobia and bigotry stemming from the pandemic. Recently released statistics show the nonprofit received 3,795 incident reports between March 19, 2020 and Feb. 28, 2021, which it calls “only a fraction” of the hate incidents that actually occur. There was verbal harassment and shunning, civil rights violations and online harassment. Physical violence was the third largest category of total incidents. And women reported hate incidents 2 ⅓ times more than men.
It’s time to start a dialogue with our Asian American neighbors about this alarming trend. What is happening in our own communities? Do Asian Americans feel safe? What safety measures can be put in place?
We need to simply ask: How can we help? And then, we need to actually do it.