Ever since the start of the pandemic, anti-Asian hate crimes have been on a rise. In 2020 alone, there was a 146 percent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 26 of the largest jurisdictions in the country according to the Los Angeles Times. New York City has had the largest jump in these hate crimes, from three in 2019 to 28 in 2020, a 833 percent increase. These hate crimes began to initially spike in March and April of 2020, around the same time coronavirus cases began to rise in the U.S.
According to BBC, an advocacy group called Stop AAPI Hate reported that they had received over 2,800 hate incident reports in 2020 from places all over the country. This organization was created online at the beginning of the pandemic as a self-reporting tool.
The hate crimes were linked to the hateful rhetoric that blamed Asian-Americans for the coronavirus. Former President Trump had used the phrase “China Virus” in his tweets over 20 times in March of 2020. Having a president normalize racist comments only made the stigma around Asian-Americans worse, as well as showed his supporters that hateful behavior was acceptable. Though the Trump Administration is not all to blame for this rise in anti-Asian American rhetoric, they did weaponize and set a narrative that reflected onto the people.
Dorine Kondo, a professor of American Studies and Ethnicity, told the Los Angeles Times, “The thing about hate crime is it’s not irrational hate. It’s the absolutely predictable outcome of structural inequality, so these incidents will continue as long as there are structural inequalities.”
There have been occurrences that were dismissed as not racially motivated, despite clear evidence of the opposite. In the Atlanta area spa shootings, six of the eight victims were Asian women and officials dismissed the possibility of racial bias being a motive. In Manhattan, a Chinese man had been stabbed in the back by a stranger while he was walking home. The charge given was attempted murder, not a hate crime.
President Joe Biden had announced that he would take action to decrease the amount of anti-Asian American hate crimes. Biden established the COVID Equity Task Force Committee on eliminating Asian American prejudice and hate crimes. Additionally, the Department of Health and Human services had allocated 49.5 million dollars to the American Rescue Plan, which helps AAPI survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
But, even Biden’s efforts don’t seem to be curbing the rise of hate crimes. Brian Levin, a professor of criminal justice, told USA Today, “Even with President Biden and Congress making admirable efforts, there’s still a subculture that is vulnerable to either a shallow level of prejudice or a very deep level of prejudice. Even people with low, shallow prejudices can act violently based on situational factors.”