by Julia Pierrepont III
LOS ANGELES, March 28 (Xinhua) — The COVID-19 epidemic has created a pressure-cooker environment in the United States due to the handy work of some politicians, leading to an increase in anti-Asian violence and hate crimes across the country, and spreading fear among Asian American communities.
In response, besides the “Stop Asian Hate” rallies this weekend, several celebrities have stepped up to speak out against the mounting racism and violence, and encouraged hundreds of millions of followers to help stop the spread of hate.
Actress Olivia Munn, whose mother of Chinese descent is from Vietnam, leapt into action after the mother of an Asian American friend was assaulted and knocked out outside a New York City bakery last month. She posted pictures and rallied an online citizen’s watch that helped lead to the attacker’s arrest.
“The racist, verbal and physical assaults have left my community fearful to step outside,” Munn said in February on social media. “These hate crimes have spiked since Covid and continue to increase even though we ask for help, even though we ask our fellow Americans to be outraged for us, even though we ask for more mainstream coverage.”
Comedian Ken Jeong isn’t laughing. Anti-Asian American crime has risen almost 150 percent in the last year, while overall hate crimes went down 7 percent, said Jeong, whose parents were born in Korea, in a video posted on Twitter on Wednesday. “This is precisely due to weaponizing terms such as ‘The China Virus’ and ‘Kung Flu.'”
“As a human, I don’t know how to solve racism. It takes listening, learning, loving, being tolerant,” Jeong said. He contributed 50,000 U.S. dollars to the victims of the Atlanta massacre early this month, which left eight people dead, six of them Asian women.
With Saturday Night Live entering its 46th season this year, Bowen Yang, co-anchor of the program, has stepped up financially, saying he intends to match donations up to 10,000 dollars made to the Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, a nonprofit group.
Golden Globe winner Sandra Oh expressed her appreciation at a pro-Asian rally last Saturday in Pennsylvania for the opportunity to stand together.
“For many of us in our community, this is the first time we are even able to voice our fear and our anger,” the daughter of middle-class South Korean immigrants said. “I really am so grateful to everyone willing to listen.”
“WE SEE YOU”
The Los Angeles Lakers were quick to denounce anti-Asian violence. “Anti Asian racism and violence is deplorable and we do not stand for it,” the basketball team tweeted on March 18 in a statement. “We stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Island community. We see you.”
Lakers’ superstar LaBron James, an avid proponent of voter registration, tweeted on March 17 that “My condolences goes out to the families of all the victims and the entire Asian community tonight on what transpired in Atlanta at the Aromatherapy Spa.”
“SICK about what happened here in ATL yesterday, my Condolences go out to the family’s & loved ones who were affected by this tragedy,” Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young tweeted on March 17 when the mass shooting occurred in the city
“Nothing else needs to be said,” he added. “I’m with you!”
Former NBA guard Jeremy Lin, one of the few Asian Americans to have played in the league, also spoke out against the violence.
“This is sooo heartbreaking,” Lin tweeted in mid-March. “Praying for our world. To my Asian American family, please take time to grieve but know your loved, seen and IMPORTANT. We have to keep standing up, speaking out, rallying together and fighting for change.”
ONE STEP FURTHER
Actor and political activist Daniel Dae Kim is lobbying U.S. lawmakers to pass stricter laws aimed at reducing hate crimes.
“I was disheartened to find that for a bill that required no money or resources, just a simple condemnation of acts of hate against people of Asian descent, 164 members of Congress, all Republican, voted against it,” he chastised lawmakers during a hearing on March 18.
“Awareness is really just the first step,” Kim told CNN. “Now it’s about volunteering, it’s about contacting community organizers who are working in communities like Oakland and the Bay Area and New York City — where so many of these attacks are happening — and donating to these causes.”
Japanese-American actor George Takei called on Republican leaders to “stop fanning violence with anti-Asian rhetoric” in a tweet on March 17.
“A microscopic virus was replaced with a recognizable target,” actor Bee Vang wrote in an NBC News column on Feb. 18. “And once again, in this pandemic, anti-Asian sentiment has turned us into a faceless, invasive peril to be extruded from this country.”
Some thought-leaders pointed out that Asian Americans have had to endure the dangers of two pandemics, namely the coronavirus and the racism.
Golden Globe winner Awkwafina has encouraged people to get involved and donate to organizations that have been fighting the good fight against Anti-Asian hate crimes.
U.S. President Joe Biden has also showed support for Asian Americans. “Too often, we’ve turned against one another,” he said earlier this month, “Vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who have been attacked, harassed, blamed and scapegoated.”
“At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, they’re on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives,” Biden added. “And still — still — they are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. It’s wrong, it’s un-American and it must stop.” Enditem