The year 2020 quickly brought a flood of fear all across America due to the safety concerns surrounding the coronavirus, however, with the continuous rise in cases, there also came an alarming number of hate crimes against the Asian community in connection with the pandemic. A study recently conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University showed that through the course of 2019 and 2020 hate crimes had spiked to an alarming 149 percent. Another study done by Stop Asian American and Pacific Islander Hate concluded that throughout the span of the first year of coronavirus there had been at least 3,800 hateful incidents against Asians, most targeting women.
A most infamous recent event committed against an Asian woman happened within the past week on the 29th of March in Manhattan when 65-year-old Vilma Cari was walking to church, and she was brutally stomped on by 38-year-old Brandon Elliot. Throughout the course of the attack Elliot was heard exclaiming Anti-Asian rhetoric such as “You don’t belong here!” Over the past month there was also a mass shooting within the Atlanta area committed by lone shooter Robert Long, with six out of eight of his victims being of Asian descent. His motives behind his cold blooded killings were because he believed killing these women would enable him to subside his “sexual addiction” and “ temptations,” a common theme seen in the objectification and exoticization of Asian women.
For Student Diversity Engagement & Success Southeast Asian Coordinator Haiyang Yang, recently he has been trying to think of possible ways to help support the Asian community on campus. As of right now he is currently conducting academic advising and being a shoulder to lean throughout the course of the academic year, the pandemic and the recent events.
“In Whitewater right now I do feel safe. I can’t say much about where I used to live in Milwaukee because anything can happen there. I am afraid for my family who are there and for people anywhere. Even though I am not witnessing much, there could be incidents happening outside that I don’t know of. I know recently because of all the chaos there have been a lot of arguments between if Asian Lives Matter or Black Lives Matter and at the end of that day I don’t understand that. We should all just be trying to support each other, instead of dividing,” says Yang on his feelings surrounding Asian Hate Crimes.
As a way to support grieving folks, the Women’s and Gender Studies Department along with other various university cohorts recently posted joint support messages denouncing Asian Hate Crimes, while also challenging people’s ideas of intersectional violence with society.
“The rise of Anti-Asian crime of Anti-Asian crimes in the past year has been astronomical. I believe it is in large part due to disinformation that has been put out about Covid-19, people are using that as an excuse to commit hate crimes. I am concerned about how the University community is handling it. Even before Covid-19, there have been members of the University community that have been targeted and or bullied by Anti-Asian statements. We are not isolated from all the chaos, even here on campus,” said Interim Chair of Women’s and Gender Studies Crista Lebens. “I think in the ongoing future we need to create a climate here on campus that shows that we don’t tolerate this kind of behavior.”