By Anwesha Bhaumik
Kolkata, May 6 (IANS) Attacks against people of Asian descent aren’t new in the history of the US, but recent spike in anti-Asian incidents post-Covid, panelists at a recent online seminar organised by top American think tank East-West Centre argued.
The context of the post-Covid violence against Asians is more worrying, Representative Ted Lieu told attendees at the ‘EWC Live: Asian Americans Unsilenced’ online seminar, covered by IANS.
With the numbers of anti-Asian attacks projected to grow, other panelists speaking at the seminar called for more activism and collaborations with other ethnic groups.
The issue of anti-Asian hate is getting attention “from the very highest level of our government”, Lieu said, adding: “I think we’re in a different political environment. I think you’re seeing the political awakening of the Asian American community.”
Manjusha Kulkarni, executive director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council and co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate, said she expects more school-related cases in the days ahead, with schools increasingly returning to in-person learning.
Kulkarni said research in Canada, Australia and New Zealand show similar increases in anti-Asian incidents, and some of the solutions may have to involve international organizations like the World Bank and the UN, she said.
Actor Rizwan Manji, who starred in the Canadian situation comedy “Schitt’s Creek” and NBC’s “Outsourced”, recalled after 9/11 only being offered roles as a terrorist.
Manji said that today the industry is producing more works that include Asians but not frequently enough.
“We need to have something that brings us to that next level,” he said.
Madalene Xuan-Trang Mielke, president and CEO of the Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies said it is important in the current environment for the AAPI community to be represented and participate in policy decision-making, including greater representation at the cabinet level.
Representation in and by the media needs improving as well, said NBC’s Asian-American reporter Kimmy Yam.
She called for more nuanced, sensitive coverage of Asian communities by knowledgeable reporters.
Many American scholars think the Donald Trump era, though brief, galvanised white supremacism in a way not seen in US in five decades.
“Trump anti-migrant demonization played into the post-9/11 psyche and posturing against China’s rise, ending up villifying Middle Eastern and Chinese settlers. Even Sikhs with turbans are being mistaken as Iranians and attacked. Same is true of Koreans and Japanese being mistaken as Chinese,” said Tuhin Sanzid, who runs a Bengali-English online site in US.
Sanzid, who studies race relations in the US closely, says even Bangladeshis and Indian Muslims who largely uphold a secular national culture are bracketed with ‘”troublesome” Pakistanis , Iranians or Arabs.
“Less than educated White Americans are as poorly informed as Trump who was idolized by a lot of them. Remember Trump messing up on South Asian geography to insist Bhutan was an Indian province,” Sanzid told IANS.
“Ignorance explains hostile stereotyping and many absolutely peaceful and integrated Asians are seen with suspicion,” he added.
A new study has found that there was nearly a 150 per cent surge in anti-Asian hate crimes across major cities in the US in 2020, while overall hate crimes fell by 7 per cent.
The study, titled “Report to the Nation: Anti-Asian Prejudice & Hate Crime”, has been conducted by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism (CSHE) at the California State University, San Bernardino.
By Anwesha Bhaumik