COVID Times and Asian Lives
By: Nafisa Shamim, Opinion Writer
The COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly been one of the worst times of our decade as this pandemic has not only paused people’s day-to-day activities but has taken away the lives of others. However, one of the most impacted groups during this time has been the Asian and Asian American communities as they struggle to rebuild their reputation and protect themselves from becoming the next victim of a hate crime.
Our previous political leader, President Donald Trump, has made several accusations calling COVID-19 the “Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu” along with other highly xenophobic comments. Due to a growing negative portrayal of Asian people, this has left a lasting discriminatory impact on their safety, businesses, school life, etc. According to NBC News written by Kimmy Yam, hate crimes against Asian people from the years 2019-20 have increased almost by 150%, especially in America’s highly diverse populations, such as New York City and Los Angeles. These statistics do not include recent attacks made in 2021 and also recognize that first-generation immigrants are far less likely to report hate crimes due to fear. Not to mention a majority of the attacks have been on the elderly and women demographics of the Asian community according to NPR reports by Kat Lonsdorf.
Recent hate crimes, also reported by Lonsdorf, include the attacks in three different spas in Atlanta, Georgia that left eight individuals dead, six of whom were Asian women. As recently as April 23, 2021 an attack towards an elderly 61-year-old Asian man took place in New York City. The victim was hit on the head causing him to fall to the ground, followed by being kicked several times as well. He is currently in critical condition. These attacks are only a fraction of those that have taken place over the last few years.
My parents and I immigrated to this country from Bangladesh when I was 4 years old. My father was here years prior to when my mother and I arrived, working day and night while attempting to attend school for us to have a proper home to come to. As a Muslim and South Asian person, it is difficult to witness other first-generation individuals being afraid of speaking up about their experiences, but unfortunately, I can empathize with them as well. As a first-generation child, I fear allowing my parents to do day-to-day activities such as grocery shopping, going to the bank or even simply walking down an empty street because from what it seems these attacks can happen anywhere, anytime and to anyone that even fits the stereotype of being Asian, let alone being part of the Asian community.
People from all over the world migrate to the US in hopes of achieving the “American Dream,” either through themselves or through their children. It is not easy rebuilding a life in an unfamiliar country as is, but having to fear for one’s life while doing so is something they should not have to worry about — especially for a virus they did not cause. The Asian community has been a huge part of what makes America what it is today, taking up more than 18.64 million of our population, according to the US Census. We must protect our fellow Asian civilians as, without them, this country would not be where it is. Hate crimes and discrimination of any kind, or to anyone, do not have any place to stand in our nation.