Well before Covid-19 became a certified pandemic, racism and rumors were circulating online about the virus. Chinese as well as other Asians living abroad began to experience an increase in racist attacks and xenophobia as a result.
In response to this surge in xenophobic behavior, two concerned groups in the US have launched a website for Asian-Americans to report racist and xenophobic incidents they recently experienced. The site, called Stop AAPI Hate, received over 1,000 reports of recent incidents in just over two weeks.
Russell M. Jeung, a professor at San Francisco State University, a representative for the project, told RADII that they have received over 1,200 reports since March 19, at a rate of around 90 to 100 per day.
Jeung told National Public Radio that the coalition created the website as a reporting center partly because, due to the pandemic, the California state government was too backlogged to do anything. “We had hundreds of accounts to go to the state legislature and say, ‘This is happening. We need to get it documented,” he said. “We need to proactively address these trends.'”
According to Jeung, many of the reports are of microaggressions — “name-calling and verbal harassment” — and escalate to bottles and cans being thrown at people, homes being vandalized, and “maybe three times a day, we have people actually being physically attacked, assaulted, being hit or punched, pushed on subways.”
In addition to Stop AAPI Hate, Wikipedia has also become home to a long and growing list of racist incidents from 38 countries since a dedicated page was created in early February. An Israeli AI start-up recently released a report saying cyberbullying targeting Asians had also spiked, and that hate speech directed at Chinese and China had increased 900% over the same period.
The uptick in racist incidents has also led to more concerted efforts to protect affected individuals. A coalition of lawyers based in San Diego announced that they had created a task force to provide free legal representation for Asian-Americans facing discrimination and attacks, according to local news outlet CBS8. And in a potentially more dangerous take on the trend, gun sales among Asian-Americans also appear to be on the rise.
Header image: Kaitlyn Baker via Unsplash
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