With rise in violence against Asian Americans, impact of hateful words, media failings is clear
It has been almost exactly a year since I submitted a letter explaining how “Ignorant reference to Covid-19 as ‘Chinese virus’ is nothing new in Trump’s lazy repertoire of hate.” Though President Donald Trump has since left office, the impact of his words have persisted and compounded at an alarming rate. I, along with many other Asian Americans, are saddened and infuriated at the injustices, injuries and deaths suffered by members of the Asian American community in the past year. Our community has suffered 3,800 reported hate crimes since I wrote, for an increase of 150 percent in 2020 from the year before.
Defenseless elders were beaten in the streets, pedestrians were stabbed and slashed, and others were spat on and told to “never come back.” The murder of six Asian American women in Atlanta on Tuesday struck a different tone, not just because of its brutality, but because of how various news organizations failed to put the identities of the victims at the forefront of their reporting. Six out of the eight victims are women of Asian descent, yet the initial headlines of The New York Times and Washington Post did not even mention the word “Asian.” Only after much outrage (and almost a day) did they update their headlines to “Georgia Killings Deepen Fear of Rising Anti-Asian Hate in U.S.” and “Rampage amplifies fear among Asian Americans.” These are only minor offenses compared with Fox News and other organizations that actively perpetuated Trump’s hateful narrative, which has directly contributed to the rise in hate crimes.
Mainstream media continue to disappoint and anger us. The solution to the problem at hand was the same as it was a year ago: First, news organizations must not conflate a foreign government and a group of ethnic people, for example, the Chinese government and Chinese Americans. The impacts of scapegoating have become all too clear, and no community of any race should ever suffer from it. Secondly, news organizations must commit to confronting the problems faced by the Asian American community, which has a long history of being viewed as a submissive “model minority.”
Together, we can root out the disease in the narrative. It is time for everyone to step up, care for our neighbors and hold each other accountable.
Daniel Wang, Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School