Standing Up to Asian-Hate

by Hongyu Wang, member, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association

The persecution of Asians and Asian-Americans is rooted in American history. One example, the Chinese Exclusion Act, was enacted in 1882, which was later replaced by Asian Exclusion Act. Later, Japanese Americans were placed into internment camps around World War II. Presently, Asian Americans are being scapegoated for the pandemic.  This has been fueled by the former President Trump’s label of coronavirus as “China virus.” Since then, anti-Asian American hate crimes have skyrocketed.

I, like thousands of other Asian Americas, became a victim of anti-Asian hate crime this year. Two weeks ago, on my way to the bus stop , a person with whom I had no prior interaction with poured a carton of milk on me from behind. Before I was able to compose myself, the attacker was already ten feet away. I was soaked and humiliated. However, the police let the incident go because they did not actually witness the attack and my injury was minor. My attacker did not need to say anything for me to understand it was a hate crime, fueled by the recent prevalence of anti-asian hate crimes around the nation.


Although hate crime laws exist, to prove the incident was racially motivated is extremely difficult because like in my case, the attacker did not say anything. Sadly, within 48 hours of my incident, a white man in Atlanta went to 3 Asian American massage parlors and ruthlessly murdered 6 members of my Asian American community. Though president Biden said the Atlanta Asian massacre was very “unfortunate,” he has not yet invoked Congress to pass any bills and no resources have yet been devoted specifically to address Asian American racism. I am especially frustrated that the Atlantic shooting was not called a hate crime, yet instead blamed on the shooter “having a bad day.” Why has this not been labeled a hate crime when it was clearly racially motivated? What is the point of having a Hate Crimes Act when it is impossible to invoke at circumstances like this?

These tragic events triggered an enormous response around the country. #StopAsianHate protests showed up in every major city in the United States on the following weekend after the Atlanta shootings. Support posts immediately flooded the internet. Various companies publicly announced their solidarity with the Asian American community, but I do believe we can and must do more. Negative Asian stereotypes are still actively being portrayed by Hollywood and the media. Further, current immigration laws implicitly discriminate against Asians by upholding a diversity visa program, intentionally excluding many Asian countries. For us Asian Americans, there is a long way to go. I am hopeful that we are all taking small steps moving forward. Recently, in San Francisco, an elderly Asian American woman defied silent Asian stereotypes and fought back after she was severely attacked in the face.  However she has set an example for all of us – her family launched a GoFundMe page to compensate her medical bills and after almost one million dollars grass-root money was raised, she committed all of the funds generated to combat anti-Asian American racism. In memory of all of the anti-Asian American hate crime victims, it is our time to make our voices heard.