It was the beginning of the pandemic when someone called me a racial slur.
I was at the grocery store, masked, getting some food and minding my own business when an unmasked man rammed his cart into mine and blamed my race for “the Chinese virus,” screaming expletives.
I hadn’t heard the slur since I was a kid, and I was so astounded that I didn’t know how to respond. I left the grocery store feeling very confused. My partner didn’t let me go shopping alone again.
I was a victim of harassment due to my appearance — I’m not even Chinese — and I’m not alone. As far as Asian-American hate has gone since the beginning of the pandemic, I found myself lucky that rude yelling was all I received.
In 2020, the King County Prosecutor’s office reported 59 Asian-American hate crime cases — 20 more than in 2019. And it has only gotten worse.
In Renton on Feb. 14, 2021, a woman threw a snowball at an Asian man, screaming racial slurs.
In Seattle on Feb. 25, 2021, a Japanese teacher named Noriko Nasu was assaulted with a sock full of rocks to the face, breaking her nose, teeth, and giving her a concussion. Her boyfriend was also assaulted, and his injuries required eight stitches.
These are only two local cases, and there are many more across the United States. According to the group Stop AAPI Hate, there were “2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from 47 states and the District of Columbia.” The hate detailed on their report ranged from spitting to violent assault, with women, youth and the elderly being the most frequent targets, along with people who identified as Chinese or were profiled as such.
These statistics are a part of a key component in allyship toward marginalized races: education. Consuelo Grier, our new Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion as of April 1, emphasizes that education is important in being an ally to AAPI students. “A key component in making sure that you are targeting your voices in the right places or in the right ways is to think about educating yourselves. There’s a lot of literature out there, and there’s a lot of resources. I think the more we acknowledge and discuss some of what’s happening in the AAPI community, the more awareness there is, and the more awareness means the more support the community should have.” To aid in educating students in supporting marginalized races, especially AAPI, Grier plans on opening a social justice center on campus. “[It] will have some tools and some resources and programming that’s available for everyone to think about social justice and obviously, racial justice is a component of that.”
During this pandemic, we should be trying our best to keep ourselves, our friends, and our families safe and not turning a blind eye toward violent and illegal racial profiling.
On-campus, Grier says there are concrete ways people can help AAPI students facing harassment. “We actually have a bias incident report form and students, or really anyone on campus can utilize … if they feel like they have either witnessed or been a victim of any type of race-based or other bias incidents or hate crimes. Students can certainly report it directly to me. They can also report it to the Dean or the Vice President of Student Affairs … the most important action for AAPI allies to take is: if you see something, say something.”