Last March, before there had been a single case of COVID-19 reported in the State of Ohio there were already disturbing signs that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders were being targeted for abuse and hate crimes. At the time I wrote to my colleagues that “as the coronavirus has spread, there have been increased reports of anti-Asian prejudice in this country and around the world. We all need to do everything we can to prevent discrimination against specific populations, since stigmatization can fuel the spread of the outbreak by driving individuals to hide infection and avoid seeking treatment. This is a virus that doesn’t discriminate based on sex, race, ethnic origin or any other category.”
Hate crimes targeting people who are Asian American and Pacific Islander, their families and communities have have spiked by 150 percent in major U.S. cities this past year.
As a gay man I remember what is was like to be stigmatized by an illness; at one time many referred to the AIDS epidemic as a “gay plague” as if all gay people were infected, or were the only ones getting infected. Recently, Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge John P. O’Donnell used the term “China Virus” three times in a column, distributed by the Lake County Bar Association, that detailed how he handled his docket during the pandemic. This type of racist language is unacceptable and creates a climate where hate crimes are more likely to flourish.
Over the past days and weeks there have been heartbreaking reports of racially-motivated hate crimes involving physical violence and harassment, targeting elderly Asian Americans and others. Since the beginning of COVID-19, inflammatory rhetoric, harassment and violence against people who are Asian American and Pacific Islander, their families and communities have increased. Hate crimes targeting this population have spiked by 150 percent in major U.S. cities this past year. In the Cleveland area the offices of Asian Services in Action have been vandalized and their staff members have been harassed on public transit. Other Asian businesses have reported similar events.
Advancing racial equity and economic inclusion for people of all races and ethnicities is critical to everyone’s safety and security. That is why we encourage every member of our community to take a stand against the structures that perpetuate and fuel discrimination and assaults on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. If you are aware of an incident, or have been the victim of an incident, you can report it at https://stopaapihate.org. Locally Asian Services in Action can also help people who have been victimized.