The deadly shooting in Atlanta was a sad wake up call to many Americans. As victims are starting to speak up, new reports of anti-Asian hate crimes are being reported daily. No one can turn a blind eye to anti-Asian racism and violence in this country any longer.
Asian Americans played an integral role in building the Pacific Northwest. The Chinese worked in the mining industry, built the Transcontinental railroad; The Japanese worked in construction and on farms; They are a significant part of our history and our local culture but have also suffered tremendous discrimination over the years. Washington State once banned Chinese from voting or even testifying in court cases involving white defendants. The 19th century Chinese Exclusion Act excluded Chinese, later expanded to all Asians, from entering this country. Chinese were expelled out of Tacoma and Seattle. The 20th century Alien Land Law prohibited Asians, mainly Chinese and Japanese, from owning land in Washington. During WWII, Japanese Americans were put into internment camps.
Racism against Asian Americans is nothing new. It is unfortunate that it has taken so many recent tragic incidents and deaths for Americans to wake up to the racism Asian Americans have been facing for so many years. The recent interest in anti-Asian hate crime coverage and the current public debate serves as an opportunity to take a hard look at this country and our state’s long history of anti-Asian sentiment.
Washington Asians For Equality (WAFE) and American Coalition for Equality (ACE) jointly condemn anti-Asian hate crimes and racism in both Washington state and across the country. According to King 5 TV, Washington ranks fourth highest in the U.S. for harassment against Asians in 2020. We call on action, not empty rhetoric, to end anti-Asian racism.
Here are simple actions we can take that will make a difference right now:
- The State Legislature should list Asians in Equity bills (SB 5044, SB 5227, SB 5228, SB 5194) as a group that has suffered from systemic racism. These efforts can correct racism towards Asians.
- The State Legislature should pass bills such as SB 5264 to commemorate the contributions of Asian Americans to our state and country.
- The Governor should fund and launch a statewide marketing campaign to educate the public on Asian Americans’ contributions to combat the ingrained notion that Asian Americans are ‘forever foreigners’ and therefore don’t belong in the U.S. We can educate the public in our state and country about the dark past of discrimination against Asians.
- OSPI and school districts can prioritize Asian American History study in curriculums. Asian Americans’ contributions and hardships should be taught in school. As 7th Grader Julia Shang pointed out “when the oppression that a community faces is neglected, you begin to think that it’s okay to be racist to that community.” This negative cycle needs to be stopped.
- We call on education institutions, government agencies, and employers to exam and recognize the implicit bias associated with the image of a “model minority” and terms such as “Asians are overrepresented”. It is wrong to limit Asian students’ opportunity to attend state colleges and medical schools.
- We call on prosecutors, state troopers, police and sheriffs to enforce the law on hate crimes against Asians. Justice should be brought to victims of anti-Asian hate crime.