Weglinski: Racism Against Asians Needs to Stop


Hailey Danielson

Salt Lake City Chinatown, 2021 (Photo by Hailey Danielson | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Sonia Weglinski, Opinion Writer


An elderly Asian man was recently assaulted in Oakland, CA’s Chinatown area. The other week, multiple Asian-run businesses in Maryland were vandalized and looted. And these were not isolated events — crimes against the Asian community have been growing at an alarming rate since even before the Lunar New Year. Between March and September of last year, more than 2,500 hate crimes against Asian Americans were reported. Among other examples of the anti-Asian rhetoric that has been associated with the pandemic, phrases like the “Chinese virus” and “kung flu have contributed to an uptick in racial attacks against the Asian community.

“Racist rhetoric from the pandemic have targeted us as being the reason for coronavirus… and so Asians across-the-board have been targeted, being pushed, attacked, spat on,” said Daniel Wu, a famous Asian actor to ABC. Unfortunately, the media is barely touching on this large-scale issue. These hate crimes have been going on for months, but have been left in the background of many conversations. Moreover, the Asian American community has silently struggled with racism and hate since long before the pandemic.

While President Biden denounced these actions, much more needs to be done to protect Asians and Asian Americans and curb anti-Asian sentiment in the United States. Racism and microaggressions toward Asian Americans have been disgustingly normalized in this country, and the pandemic has exacerbated that. As a society, we need to proactively call out and bring attention to racist language and attacks. The Asian community should not have to worry about their livelihood and their safety.

Asian Americans are often pitted against other people of color as the “model minority. Historically, white people have used this term to weaponize the successes of Asians as a way to invalidate and disregard other BIPOC experiences here in the US. However, this language also leads to the downplaying of very real racial trauma and prejudice toward the Asian community and contributes to the normalization of anti-Asian sentiment.  “[The] model minority myth discounts our struggles and hurdles them as ‘less important’ and not worthy of being discussed.” said student Yukta Ramanan to The Purple Tide.

As an Asian who grew up in a predominantly white community, I’ve experienced many microaggressions and racist remarks that I’ve had to learn to minimize. I felt that I had to mold myself into the model minority stereotype because that’s how my peers viewed my community — quiet, smart and submissive. Lehua Kono, external vice-president of the University of Utah’s Asian American Student Association, spoke in an interview on the general tendency of the Asian community — specifically elders — to not speak up. This is primarily because many Asian Americans have been conditioned not to retaliate, as many of our concerns have been ultimately left unheard or unaddressed. “It’s important for the younger generation to speak up and call to action, [as well as] to have other allies with us,” said Kono. Asian Americans only make up 5.6% of the US population, so it’s crucial that the Asian community has widespread support to bring awareness to these issues.

Asian Americans have also been one of the hardest-hit groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. Over 233,000 Asian businesses have closed, and many Asians are more prone to life-threatening outcomes from the virus — yet they are forced to deal with the adverse effects of bigotry on top of that. It’s frustrating to see my community being attacked so severely, but still have our voices ignored because of a false image. The US has a long history of mistreatment and xenophobia toward Asian Americans, and those scars carry on even today. As a society, we need to reevaluate how we view and treat the Asian community. “A national conversation about racism that ignores the plight of Asian-Americans carries an unforgivable omission,” wrote Adrian De Leon in a PBS article.

The Asian community needs support and solidarity now more than ever. We need to actively engage in conversations to bring awareness to the widespread anti-Asian sentiment in American to prevent more hate crimes and harassment.


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