LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Let’s stop Asian hate

Published 5:13 pm Friday, March 26, 2021

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Like many others throughout our country, I am sad and angry over the recent shootings that occurred in Atlanta which targeted Asian Americans. This past year has seen an increase in the number of hate-related incidents targeting the Asian American community.

For example, Stop AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) Hate recently reported that over 3,800 hate incidents directed at this community occurred over the past year, a number considerably higher than the previous year. This likely is an undercount since many such events go unreported. NC Asian Americans Together (ncaatogether.org) reported over 30 such events here in North Carolina.

We cannot dismiss the role played in this increase by the inflammatory rhetoric coming from the former president and many of his allies such as the scapegoating of Asian Americans by referring to the coronavirus in xenophobic terms such as the “China virus” and “kung flu.”

Unfortunately, though, violence against Asian Americans is not new in this country. Fears were largely responsible for the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the 1940s saw the incarceration of over 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Consider how many stereotypes we ourselves may unconsciously hold based on negative depictions of Asian people in movies, on TV or from our own upbringing.

While I am not aware of any such hate-related incidents happening in Stanly County, there is no doubt that our Asian-American neighbors are fearful of such a possibility.

What can we do to ensure that these events do not occur here?

First, we can educate ourselves about the issue and the history of discrimination and violence against people of AAPI descent in our country.

Second, we can support organizations such as NC Asian Americans Together which builds partnerships across racial lines in order to empower members of the AAPI community and to foster a truly inclusive society.

Third, we can check in with our Asian-American friends and neighbors, ask how they’re doing and offer to listen and support them.

Fourth, let’s increase our patronage of local Asian-American businesses and let them know we appreciate their presence in our community.

Fifth, we can work with our faith communities to sponsor public prayer vigils to express solidarity and affirmation for our Asian-American neighbors.

Finally, contact Sen. Carl Ford and Rep. Wayne Sasser to encourage them to support Sen. Jay Chaudhuri’s efforts to reintroduce the Hate Crimes Prevention Act into the General Assembly. So far, this bill has yet to receive a hearing after two attempts to introduce it; now is the time to change that. The bill expands protections against and increases punishment for hate crimes, provides for increased training on hate crimes for law enforcement and prosecutors, and establishes a hate crimes database.

Let’s channel our sadness and anger into compassionate concern and productive action.

Anne Lipe