WWW.QNS.COM RIDGEWOOD TIMES MARCH 25, 2021 13
Assaults against Asian Americans are neither random nor right
BY FRANK H. WU
How many Asian Americans have
to be killed before other people
realize there is a pattern? The
past year of pandemic has seen every
type of violence directed toward Asian
Americans, from name calling that
leads to spitting on pedestrians and
shoving the elderly to the ground hard
enough to break bones to stabbings
and ultimately the recent shootings in
Atlanta, Georgia. Although the three
businesses visited by the confessed
killer were Asian-owned and six of
eight victims were Asian women, a
senior law enforcement offi cial there
described the mass murder as the
outcome of a “bad day” and then was
revealed himself to have spread the
“China virus” meme on social media.
The assaults are neither random nor
right. Asian Americans, however, have
experienced this type of dismissal of
their concerns. President Joe Biden
mentioned in his fi rst major speech
that Asian-Americans number among
those heroic front-line health care
professionals risking their lives to
treat patients during the pandemic.
Yet Asian-Americans continue to be
blamed for the disease in jokes that are
less funny than they are dangerous.
In the face of tragedy, Asian
Americans encounter skeptics about
whether they in fact suff er at all. Asian
Americans have diffi culty persuading
others despite the compelling evidence
because we frame race in black and
white terms, literally and fi guratively.
We discuss civil rights as if everyone
fi ts into one of two boxes, black or
white. A stroll through New York City
confi rms that this picture of the world
is inaccurate, regardless of your identity
or your politics. Queens College
is more than 25% Asian in enrollment
and the CUNY system is over 20%.
Many people are Latinx, Jewish,
Arab, and mixed. There are Haitians
and Nigerians distinct from African
American and “white ethnics” who
identify as Italian or Polish or Greek.
They can be Afro-Asian, Asian and
Spanish-speaking due to family roots in
South America, or Asian and adopted.
Pacifi c Islanders are neglected even as
“Asian Americans and Pacifi c Islanders”
are mentioned. Asian Americans are
not alone in being multi-cultural or of
We wish for confl ict to be simple, villains
and victims. We visualize bigots
to be wicked beyond redemption, and
those whom they harm to be pure beyond
The trouble is that everyone except
the most extreme and the most foolish
appreciates that they are expected at
least in polite society to disavow their
racism. Observers help them by speculating
that there is an alternative explanation
for their malfeasance. What
is not deemed “racist” in intention can
nonetheless be racial in consequences.
It can be blended together with sexism.
We should be sympathetic to the victims
instead of the perpetrators.
Some people are oblivious to the possibility
that Asian Americans run into
discrimination. I have been informed
directly by folks that all the Asian
Americans they know are “well off ” or
that Asian Americans don’t have it as
bad as they would in their “homelands”
as if they didn’t belong here. The
studies consistently show that Asian
Americans who are well-educated
professionals are crowded below the
glass ceiling, or what some have called
a “bamboo ceiling.” Asian Americans
also report bias at rates lower than the
reality, due to language and culture.
It is infuriating when people explain
to me the attacks on Asian Americans
are not racist because they are directed
at foreigners. That pretext makes the
prejudice obvious: Asian Americans,
both naturalized and native born, face
the very same problems their parents
and grandparents do, but are not accepted
as bona fi de citizens. They are
shouted at to go back to where they
are “really” from and complimented
for speaking English so well. Wrongdoers
who are about to strike you
rarely pause to check your passport.
The implication of the excuse should
be called out, that it somehow would
be tolerable if off enders only targeted
those who were aliens. Once revealed,
the sentiment becomes indefensible.
I continue to be hopeful. Anti-Asian
American attitudes, hate crimes, and
government policies have always been
around. But the awareness is new and
therefore encouraging. Perhaps now,
in coalitions with the #BLM movement
and the campaigns against resurgent
anti-Semitism, Asian Americans will
have allies in demanding only what our
great nation promises to all who believe
in its ideals: equality and justice.
Frank H. Wu is president of Queens
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