It's 2021, yet racism towards Asians is making the headlines after a spate of attacks in America and across the globe. How can this still be happening?
While Lunar New Year was right around the corner, the Asian community across the globe was shocked to see a viral video of a 91-year-old being shoved to the ground by a hooded figure in Oakland’s Chinatown. Since the beginning of Covid-19, the number of hate crimes against Asians continues to skyrocket both in America and across the globe, but why is racism towards Asians so often ignored?
And here the troubles began…
As an Asian that was raised in Hong Kong and currently living in the UK, I surely recognised the bizarre looks I suddenly began to receive on the streets of London when the “bat virus” started making headlines in Western countries.
My Asian friend Claire in Australia got mocked and directed to the toilet paper aisle as soon as she stepped inside a grocery store, implying that all Asians are toilet paper crazy. And then there is Tom who lives in San Francisco and got told by a stranger during a bus ride, “Look at those Chinese students, it’s them that caused this country to suffer from the pandemic. But you’re okay, since you’re a local here.” Tom was left speechless, not sure if he was more offended or embarrassed.
Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for evidence that supports your belief or when you surround yourself with those who share the same ideals with you. Even though the people around me are all for celebrating diversity, does it represent the majority of the world?
Racism towards Asians happens
Two months ago, I walked past the local supermarket Tesco and there was a dog left outside waiting for its human. A white woman yelled behind me twice, “Please don’t eat the dogs!” It hurts that such an antiquated stereotype still exists, and that it is almost a laughable thing for these people. I walked inside the supermarket and luckily she didn’t follow me, but it left a bad taste in my mouth.
I have heard more than once that my Asian friends that were living in England and Amsterdam got called “Ching Chong”. That’s when I registered that racism towards Asians is still an ongoing issue. While I believe the majority of people don’t see us any differently just because we’re Asians, there are still people who cling to untrue stereotypes about others.
During the height of 2020’s Black Lives Matter Movement, whole generations came to understand the importance of anti-racism and allyship. People of colour were given a voice, and we started to believe that things are changing for the better.
As Asians, we aren’t usually seen as a main character in as many western contexts on film or in literature (we’re always the accountant or the math teacher), we are also told to feel benefits from a proximity to whiteness. My family always said that a darker skin colour will encourage people to look down on me or treat me poorly. But as I grew up, I realised that’s not logical. You thrive when the community thrives, and there is no “take it or leave it”.
At the end of the day, whether you’re black or brown or yellow, we should keep our heads high and rid ourselves of microaggressions that we thought we had to accept. And to those who think it’s smart to give strangers on the streets irritating comments, keep it to yourself because “the immigrant” in your eyes is probably just as hardworking as you and deserves the same respect as everyone else.