Stopping another virus, how can we stop AAPI hate?

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A Brief History of Anti-Asian American Hate-

Anti-Asian discrimination is no new phenomenon; Asians have long been marginalized and had their opinions ignored for close to two centuries in the United States. Starting during the gold rush on the west coast in 1848, citizens on the West Coast became concerned about the influx of Chinese immigrants and the competition for jobs they represented. These citizens asked Congress to address the issue, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was passed. In 1868, the U.S. and China had entered into a treaty that allowed the movement of people between the two countries. In 1880, a supplemental treaty was signed that acknowledged the U.S.’s right to limit or suspend China’s immigration. This treaty allowed those Chinese laborers already in the U.S. to leave and return at will. The Chinese Exclusion Act then established a ten-year suspension of Chinese laborers’ immigration but, per the 1880 treaty, did not apply the suspension to those Chinese laborers already in the U.S. at the signing of the treaty. As part of the legislation, the customs collectors at U.S. ports supplied these laborers with residence certificates. Faced with the issuance of numerous fraudulent certificates, Congress enacted an amendment to the Exclusion Act in 1888 that all laborers with certificates of residence outside of the country at the time of passage would have their certificates annulled and would not be allowed to reenter. Many Chinese were significantly affected by this decision. In particular, Chae Chan Ping, who was on his way back to the U.S, saw his liberties stripped as he was forced into jail. He took his case to the supreme court, and eventually, it was found that his rights were not being taken. This case is known as the Chinese Exclusion Case and stands for the proposition that the national government has the inherent, plenary, and sovereign right to control its borders even though such control over immigration is not expressly provided for in the Constitution. It, therefore, shows the inherent disadvantages of being an immigrant in the U.S. If you want to learn more about his case specifically, I explain it further in my full essay linked below. After these decisions, several other Asians unsuccessfully attempted to fight for their rights in higher courts. From the end of the 1800s to the mid-1900s, Asians continued to be discriminated against and had their voices unheard. Many protested; however, no major news of these protests is heard today.  The 1885 anti-Chinese riots in Rock Springs, Wyoming; the armed expulsion of South Asian laborers from Live Oak, California in 1908; and the 1930 anti-Pilipino riots in Watsonville, California, all have been under-reported. However, Asian American luck was about to take a turn for the worse. Upon the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S government was fearful of spies along the west coast and wrongfully placed over 100,000 Japanese in internment camps. One of these Japanese, Aiko Herzig Yoshinaga, after leaving the camps she “had uncovered evidence suggesting America’s World War II internment policy had racist motives and was not a result of “military necessity,” as Pentagon officials claimed” (Smith). This research also aided a 467-page report written by lawyer Angus C. Macbeth. The commission concluded that internment was prompted by “race prejudice, war hysteria, and political leadership failure.” To learn more about the problem’s origin, click HERE to see my full essay!

Chinese workers on the Transcontinental Railroad, they were underpaid and lived in harsh camps by the railroads

In what ways could we help victims after the event has taken place?

An issue today with hate crimes at an all-time high is the lack of resources given to the victims and their families. Specifically, physiological aid for victims suffering from PTSD-like symptoms or Asians worried about future attacks is not available. Many victims, as a result, are left without assistance after a traumatizing event. For Asian Americans over the past 12 months, 31% of Asian-American people have reported being subjected to slurs or racist jokes, and 26% have feared that someone might threaten or physically attack them (Lee). It is also reasonable to believe that these numbers are also underreported, as many Asian Americans are afraid to speak out or report crimes committed against them. Luckily, clinicians have been treating patients who have experienced financial issues, depression, social anxiety, and much more due to the pandemic. On top of these common conditions, many Asian Americans feel the stress of increased anti-Asian sentiment; they may have emotional distress after a verbal assault or anxiety regarding their physical well-being. Physicians can tailor their practices to meet this moment by creating a welcoming environment for Asian-American patients and identifying symptoms that stem from living in a racist environment. This option would only be viable if it were available for as many as possible. Adding it to health care and making it known throughout Asian communities with translated signs and more would aid the psychological relief of distressed Asians exponentially. If this could be possible, Physicians, community members, and I could address anti-Asian sentiment by tailoring their practice both inside and outside patient rooms to make Asian-American patients and colleagues feel safe.

How does our rhetoric affect anti-Asian hate?

Helping impacted communities is something we can change quickly; however, looking into the future, educating people on the history of Asian Americans, and making sure people understand many Asians in the United States are citizens just like everyone else is just as important. The first step would be changing the rhetoric used to describe Asian Americans and all races. Especially with celebrities, using the correct wording is essential. Former President Trump is a great example: he called the COVID-19 virus the “Wuhan Flu,” “Kung flu,” and other derogatory terms that effectively sanctioned Anti- Asian American behavior. Karthick Ramakrishnan, founder, and director of demographic data and policy research nonprofit AAPI Data, reaffirmed this “effect” saying “that while the uptick cannot be entirely attributed to the Trump administration’s incendiary, racist rhetoric about the coronavirus, he believes former President Donald Trump’s promoting the idea that the virus originated in China and repeatedly elevating the “China virus” rhetoric did play a part in fostering hate” (Yam). If schools educated even the basics of the history of Asians in the U.S, future generations would know the weight of their words. 

What can we do now?

Many organizations and politicians have recently taken action as hate crimes have continued. Organizations like Stop AAPI Hate are great places to look to help. They have a massive outreach and have offered many resources and ways to act now. The instructions are linked here. Another effective way to help is to donate to AAPI and to the victim’s families, which I linked earlier. Lastly, support local Asian-owned and Pacific Islander-owned businesses. These businesses began seeing a decline in business even before the first case of coronavirus was confirmed in the U.S. and stay-at-home orders were enacted. 

Thank you so much for checking out my website! I appreciate it, be sure to leave me some positive, constructive feedback in the comment section. It would be great to hear feedback, especially on my solutions portion! Lastly, even if you can’t donate, please do as much as you can to help, even if it’s just checking in with your friends/peers!



  1. Hi Will, I thought you did a great job on your project. It was very interesting and brought to light a lot of the violence brought upon Asian Americans and Asians in general, In addition to this, you did a great job highlighting certain people’s stories. Overall, a very well done project.

  2. Will, your Catalyst presentation is so compelling! You tell the story of anti-Asian prejudice really effectively, to help viewers understand the deep roots and persistent scapegoating of AAPI folks in the U.S.

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