“We need allies”: a call to the RV community to support our Asian-American students

In light of the recent hate crimes against people of AAPI descent, it’s important to hear and support our students


Photo courtesy of northwestern.edu/AP images

People protest in New York’s Manhattan on Feb. 27, 2021, against a recent uptick in hate crimes targeting Asian Americans, apparently fueled by the news that COVID-19 first appeared in China. (Kyodo via AP Images) ==Kyodo

Kennessy Baban and Sophie Shram

In light of recent events, now more than ever it’s important to hear Asian-American voices speaking about the increased violence towards the AAPI (Asian-American and Pacific Islander) community. On March 16, Atlanta resident Robert Long shot and killed eight people, and seven of whom were women, and six of whom were Asian. Throughout the country, Asian-American protestors and their allies marched through major cities in a show of support for the community. The hate crimes towards AAPI, as noted in the Holly Spirit news article of March 9, have increased over 150% in the last year alone. AAPI students and staff from RV have voiced their opinions regarding the issue. 

“Hate crimes have always existed and it’s terrible that they have increased instead of decreased,” stated senior Nicole Marie. “From what I experienced, our generation was taught in school to respect each other. However, there is so much influence outside of schools, from parents, peers, the media, that suggests otherwise. Although someone may not outright say that they don’t like a specific group of people, the small remarks and derogatory jokes build a bigger problem. It fuels prejudice that leads to large scale offenses.” 

Junior Meadow Drapala noted how “It’s really disheartening to see so much race-based hate towards people who look just like me….Asian Americans are being targeted in a string of attacks because of their physical appearance and assumptions lacking evidence of ill-intent, and that’s just disturbing. It sort of feels like people are deflecting the issue of COVID-19 onto Asian Americans and blaming it on them. 2020 and the parts of 2021 so far are really exemplifying underlying civil rights issues that were always there but not always as outwardly expressed.”

Many RV students pointed to the rhetoric that came out of the previous presidential administration’s blaming of the Asian community for the COVID-19 pandemic. Derogatory terms such as the “Kung Flu” and the “Chinavirus” became popular on right-wing social media platforms. This in turn became violent hate speech which manifested into crimes against Asian Americans. 

“These attacks are horrific and it makes me personally scared for not only myself but my family and the Asian community as a whole,” said sophomore Elaine Lui. “There’s something to note in these particular crimes which is that there are many elders being the target of these attacks. Personally, I have grandparents living in New York City  that are afraid to leave their homes due to the overwhelming fear for their lives…[In short,] we need true allies that can work together to fight this issue.”

There’s something to note in these particular crimes which is that there are many elders being the target of these attacks. Personally, I have grandparents living in New York City  that are afraid to leave their homes due to the overwhelming fear for their lives”

— Elaine Lui

On March 18, a 75-year-old Asian woman was attacked on the street in San Francisco, and gained widespread recognition in the media because she fought back against her assailant. Chinatown districts in many major cities, including San Francisco, New York City, Chicago and Philadelphia have seen a rise in hate crimes. 

“It’s really easy to look at people and stereotype them based on their circumstances or the color of their skin, and it’s very easy to find affirmation in having those stereotypes,” said RV math teacher Mr. Wang. “But, I think the fact in life is that people are so much more than that. If you really take the time to look at [a person] as an individual and try to understand their perspectives and their attributes as products of their experiences, rather than their background, I think that would do a lot of good for a lot of people.”

For Asian Americans it’s heartbreaking to see the elderly who are being targeted and the mothers unable to return home to their kids because of men like Long who murder innocent Asian Americans. The fear that comes with seeing more and more of these hate crimes occurring in America leaves many Asian-American fearing for their lives. It leaves many of us hyper-vigilant of our surroundings to ensure our own safety. 

America arguably has a long history of discrimination against people of Asian descent, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the forcible internment of Japanese Americans during WWII. This history, coupled with contemporary stereotypes of Asians as docile and well-mannered, have created additional tension for the AAPI community. 

“To me, Asian people always have had this stigma of the good non-white people,” said Mr. Wang. “They’re like the model minority so it was really easy to think of them as helpful, good members of the community, simply because they tend to get good jobs and get good grades in school…I think as soon as issues popped up, just as it was easy to associate all those good merit based qualities to Asian people, it also became easy for people to associate the problems and issues with COVID-19 with Asian people.”

As the increasing amount of hate crimes toward the AAPI community are coming to light, it’s becoming more clear that more Asian American are unsafe in their daily lives. Being an ally, which means standing together to protect and support one another during these times, is what’s really needed. 

Reach out to your friends or loved ones who are of AAPI descent and let them know you understand that they are suffering from hardships right now, and that you care for them; this can bring them some comfort during these difficult times. Even if you are not of AAPI descent, it is important to send a message or acknowledgement that you are against these hate crimes and want something done to stop them.