Asian-American Hate Crimes Finally in the Spotlight

By: Lucas Green | Contributor

The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a new kind of stress for many Americans across the country. COVID-19 has repeatedly been called names such as the “China Virus” and “Kung Flu,” obviously racially insensitive remarks, but for some Americans, it gave them a target for their stress, and it turned into hate.

Over the past year, hate crimes across the board have declined due to the pandemic, but hate crimes towards Asian Americans have spiked over 149%. Anti-Asian American Hate crimes are not a new phenomenon, but in light of the mass shootings of eight Asian-Americans at three spas on March 16, it has finally gained social media’s attention . 

“Racism was always there,” said Meng Foon, race relations commissioner at the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, in an interview with Time magazine.

While a white man committed the March 16 attacks there is not one particular race attacking Asian-Americans. On March 22,, an unnamed black man was arrested for assaulting an Asian woman leaving a rally against racism towards Asian-Americans. These incidents are small examples covering the scale of hate Asian-Americans are experiencing at a growing rate as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

Although many attacks against Asian-Americans are hate crimes in the court of public opinion, they face difficulties inside the courtroom. While other types of racially motivated hate have clear symbols, such as a noose or a swastika, and organizations such as the KKK behind them, Asian-American hate crimes are difficult to label as such in court. 

For a crime to be labeled as a “hate crime,” there must be apparent hate towards the person assaulted and not circumstantial evidence. One example often proposed is the increase in Asian businesses being robbed. In court, the question becomes whether this is a robbery motivated by racial hate or simply a robbery based on the vulnerability of the store? The only person accused of an Anti-Asian hate crime in New York over the past year was a Taiwanese man who was caught spray-painting anti-Chinese graffiti.

As this wave of Anti-Asian hate gets the attention it deserves, Asian-Americans continue to fight for their voices to be heard and for a way to label Asian-American hate crimes as what they are.