In the last year, crimes against Asian Americans have increased by nearly 150%. More than 3,800 hate incidents have been reported, with many flying under the radar. The main reason for this being that many victims are afraid to speak out due to language barriers and lack of resources to support them. The most recent attack took the lives of 8 individuals, 6 of them being Asian American women in Atlanta, Georgia. Many influential people have been utilizing their platforms to condemn these attacks, but this is not enough. The problem cannot be dealt with unless everyone starts the conversation about how we can stop the discrimination towards Asian Americans surrounding the pandemic.
The first step is to talk with friends and family members about the rise in hate crimes. Although you may not be directly affected by the incidents, it’s important to speak up about how you can help those in need. For example, try asking your family if there is any way you can donate to the families affected. Also, following support groups and communities on social media can give you helpful information on where to send resources and who to talk to. What’s great about these organizations is that they can bring about real change by starting petitions and organizing events to help push laws that can protect those in need. The recent killings of Asian women in Atlanta have sparked conversations within the justice system for stricter U.S. hate crime laws. Many are calling to pass laws that establish tougher penalties for crimes motivated by race and gender. There is also a need for uniformity in these laws as current laws differ by state. It’s shocking that as of now, three states - South Carolina, Arkansas, and Wyoming - have no hate crime laws. This needs to change.
Right now more than ever, there’s a crucial need to support Asian American and Pacific Islander communities. Marita Etcubañez, senior director of strategic initiatives at Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) states that we must “listen to the immediately impacted folks - the communities on the ground - and honor what they’re asking for, and what they’re saying they need.” Additionally, if you witness a hate crime or incident, it’s recommended that you speak out and intervene if possible. Many times, the victims can’t defend themselves and won’t report the incident. It’s also recommended to check in with your Asian American peers. They are very afraid right now, so any kind gesture could help tremendously. Many may assume that these crimes are a wave that comes and goes, but we need to see it as a deeply structural and cultural problem within the U.S. We must advocate for awareness everywhere we go, ranging from our friends and family to the workplace. We need to start the conversation now so that we can end this time of hate.
Layne, N. & Sullivan, A. (2021). Killings of Asian women renew push for tougher U.S. hate crime laws. MSN News. Retrieved from
Ramachandran, V. (2021). What you can do to fight violence and racism against Asian Americans. PBS News Hour. Retrieved from https://www.pbs.org/newshour/nation/what-you-can-do-to-fight-violence-and-racism-against-asian-americans
The primary goal of scientific researchers is to see themselves as objectively exploring the world through their studies. But based on numerous findings, we have found that research studies are inevitably influenced by the biases of the people conducting the work. This can be manifested in racial biases, gender biases, and much more. Racial bias being the most prominent, researchers must keep in mind that the samples of their study have to consist of each demographic equally. A lack of representation in these studies creates a cycle of mistrust for people of color in modern day research. And it makes sense - why would anyone fully trust research that has no evidence of results that are applicable to them?
The concept of the color line stems from genetic research dating back to the Holocaust. This was a time when eugenics were race-based studies that deemed certain European races as inferior. Researchers measured the noses of different groups and concluded that based on these differences, those with larger noses had smaller brains and were less intelligent. Many years would pass until archaeologists discovered that all humans originated from Africa and that no races are distinct from others based on physical attributes. We now know for a fact that brain size and intelligence have no correlation with race or even gender.
One famous case of racism in research is the Tuskegee Syphilis Study in 1932. In this study, the U.S. Public Health Service department initiated an experiment in Alabama to determine the long term effects of untreated syphilis. At this time, penicillin wasn’t widely known and wasn’t available to the general public. White scientists were to use Black males as test subjects because they were believed to be “lustful” and “barbaric” and were prone to venereal diseases. Darwinism also had a role in this outrageous rationale that viewed African Americans as the lowest species in the Darwinian hierarchy. The general consensus among the researchers was that the test subjects wouldn’t be missed so it wouldn’t matter if they died during the experiment. This experiment unfortunately went on for decades until most of the men died from advanced syphilitic lesions. Even after penicillin came out in the early 1950s, they were not treated with it while the experiment went on. Only in 1972, when the study first appeared in the national press, did the department halt the experiment. An investigatory panel found the study to have been “ethically unjustified,” bringing about conversations of ethics and race in scientific research. It was a turning point in determining the moral implications of human experimentation.
Many remember the Tuskegee Syphilis study, even today. This was a pivotal case that caused a deep mistrust in medical research by minority groups. This is echoed in today’s response to the COVID-19 vaccine - people of color are unwilling to become test subjects to an unknown medicine. Many question why they should trust a health care system that had historically brutalized Black people and other minority groups. This is a very controversial topic that has validity on both sides. People have the right to be skeptical about new medicine, but should also have the courage to be open-minded so that new findings can emerge from it. Most importantly, everything needs to be done ethically and transparently.
This topic is an important one that needed to be discussed, especially during Black History Month. This month is a remembrance of our country’s history and how the sacrifice of many have allowed us to live the way we do today. Thank you to those who lost their lives in the Tuskegee Syphilis study so that we could now have serious discussions about ethics in research.
Brandt, A. M. (1978). Racism and research: The case of the tuskegee syphilis study. The Hastings Center, 8(6), 21-29. doi: 10.2307/3561468
The words "we are living in unprecedented times" continue to haunt me during these times of uncertainty and doubt. Sifting and sorting through multiple articles. Fact checking left and right. Washing my hands thoroughly in a panic. Wondering when I will ever return to work again. Continuously consuming information, whether it'd be from health or history professionals. I do all of this just to find concrete answers in order for things to go back to normal. So yes, it is safe to say that I am exhausted. I can never seem to stop this adrenaline from sorting through news articles in order to calm down. While it has been evident that COVID-19 has turned everyone's lives upside down, another element has been added in the midst of the pandemic: the fight for racism and police brutality. We are currently living in a time where we are seeing a definitive gap on where our society stands with racism and police brutality. Peaceful protests have been ongoing the entire week, -police are continuously abusing their power, curfews are established at random times, and the National Guard's helicopters would not stop circulating above my home. On top of all of this, my new neighbors seem to have a reoccurring routine of vacuuming at 2:30 in the morning.
While many of us see this definitive gap, there are those who refuse to understand the current societal shift - my family being one of them. I am the black sheep of the family during these times. To be frank, I don't remember the last time I had felt so alone for having a different opinion. My oldest sister and her husband are Trump supporters and are heavily influenced in their respective parties. I have kindly asked to not challenge my views any further, but my sister has continuously refused - claiming that she was once in my position, but challenged herself leading to where her views are today. My mom, as someone who did not study in the U.S., does not understand the severity of the reason these protests are happening. Her stance also stands firm with her previous experiences with Black people on the bus going to and from work, and denies their right to basic human rights. I can't reason with factual information and content that I have learned myself because they either 1) don't understand me or 2) use the argument that "I am too smart" or 3) use the facts I have provided against me, claiming that I am only booksmart. They are the ones who tell you to apply to college, earn a degree, then work for the rest of your life. Yet, here I am being denounced in my own home because they deny the reasoning I provide in order to give context. My sister has even told my mom behind my back that I have cognitive dissonance. It's experiences like these that make me lose hope, and take a toll on me mentally due to the validation I seek.
I firmly believe the people I surround myself with is the reason why my mental health continues to be stable. The uncomfortable conversations I share with either my significant other, close friends, or individuals I share the same values decompress and continue to give me clarity. Because of this clarity, these voices continue to motivate me to carry on with my further education on Black and Asian American history. My next step towards stability is being able to make my family's comments about my reasoning as a form of white noise in order to not be so affected emotionally and mentally. As these unprecedented times continue to haunt me day by day, I seek to see this as an opportunity - not only to prove that my further education is worth it, that there will be results in this societal change that will make them understand where I am coming from.