Solidarity and Accountability: AAPI Hate Crimes on the Rise

By Eunice Kim, ERA Executive Coordinator

Access to civil rights begin with the right to basic safety. As Equal Rights Advocates fights for equity for AAPI women and gender-expansive people at work and school, we call for immediate action to address the increased hatred and violence currently endangering the AAPI community.

In June, 2020, Donald Trump referred to coronavirus as the “China Plague” and encouraged an increase in anti-Asian racism while fueling stigmatizing attitudes. This is evidently shown in the recent news and hate crimes that went viral in the San Francisco Bay Area community and New York City in the past few weeks:

  • January 31, 2021: Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man, was walking alone in San Francisco at 8:30 a.m. when Antoine Watson charged at him and violently tackled him to the ground. Ratanapakdee died from his injuries two days later.
  • February 1, 2021: a 91-year-old man was violently pushed to the ground in broad daylight in Oakland’s Chinatown. The suspect left the scene and attacked a 60-year-old man and 55-year-old woman.
  • February 3, 2021: Noel Quintana, a 61-year-old Filipino man, was on the NY subway at 8:30 am, when a man slashed Quintana across the face from check to cheek. Police are still searching for the suspect.

COVID-19 has been marked by a sharp increase in hate crimes against the AAPI community. As the AAPI community cries for help, mass media and city officials failed to address the anti-Asian hate crimes and discrimination happening at an intensive rate.

It’s well known that Black and Latinx communities have been disproportionately impacted by COVID. What is less known is that the pandemic is affecting Asian Americans nearly triple that of other groups in San Francisco County. The AAPI community is not only affected by COVID-19 fatality rates — we are also affected by anti-Asian attacks persisting in the community.

The “model minority myth” adds to the barriers keeping officials from addressing systemic anti-Asian racism and perpetration of racist attitudes against AAPI people. This myth is a stereotype that groups AAPI people as a monolith — despite having heritage in over 50 countries — and reaps the privileges of white supremacy, although data reveals a vast disparity between AAPI ethnicities. “To say there is a ‘good minority’ means you’re essentially saying there’s a bad minority, which keeps people divided,” says writer and activist Helen Zia.

This fallacy was a part of fueling civil unrest between the AAPI and Black communities. For example, in 1992, the severe beating of Rodney King started the LA Riots, and Korean American businesses were threatened. Sparked by violence in the Koreatown community, a 15-year-old black girl named Latasha Harlins was shot and killed by a Korean business owner. This caused turmoil and civil unrest between the two groups. Although there was a history of unrest, the two communities showed continuous solidarity throughout moments in history that threatened our basic civil rights. The Black community showed up for AAPI’s during the times of the Japanese internment, and the AAPI community stood in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.

With the recent attacks on AAPI’s, the two communities again experience intra-community conflict. It is more important than ever to build solidarity between our communities and call for accountability for hate crimes against AAPI people, while also condemning racist violence and anti-Black rhetoric against the Black community. Now is the critical time for unity between all communities disproportionately harmed by systemic racism and white supremacy.

Take a stand against the racism and hate crimes against the AAPI community. Please sign this petition: Petition to Get Mainstream News Coverage of National Ederly Asian American Assaults

Equal Rights Advocates (ERA) is a civil rights organization dedicated to protecting and expanding economic and educational access and opportunities for women, girls, nonbinary and gender-expansive people.

We are civil rights champions, fighting since 1974 to expand and protect the opportunities of all women and girls.