The Globe’s Point: Stop Asian Hate

The coronavirus pandemic at one time was called “novel.” This terminology was based on science, and the “novel coronavirus” referred to a new strain of this virus previously not identified in humans. But “novel” is quite literally derived from the Latin word meaning “new” or “striking.” 

Racism in America, against Asian Americans, Black Americans, Latinx Americans, indigenous people and other minority groups is not a new or novel concept, even if some are only now starting to realize how damaging it has been to our society. But this pandemic has put deep-rooted, systemic oppression and hatred against minorities into very stark relief for this country. 

This past week, six Asian women died in a series of horrific attacks against three spas in Atlanta, Georgia. Once again, it has taken a national tragedy, with experts pointing to a score of similar incidents, for America to begin to come to grips with the stigma and violence subjected towards a large group of people in our country every day. 

It is so striking, though, for many, that in a nation that prides itself on values of unity and equality that we are still plagued by the hatred in our hearts. And yet, for those who have been the victims of this treatment, they have known this inherent contradiction in the American identity all their lives. It is a hard pill to swallow that hatred, love, intolerance, and acceptance—all of these are learned behaviors, even if these lessons were internalized, in many cases, rather than explicitly taught to us. 

A few years ago, when Pittsburgh was the site of one of the worst anti-Semitic attacks in our country’s history, the city came up with a phrase: stronger than hate. 

We think it is particularly apt to bring it back now, as more activists call for an end to hate against the Asian American community. This tragedy is proof that at that moment, the country was not stronger than hate—but it can be. It must be. This is the core American identity that does unite us: our continual quest for a quality of life that is better for all. Our mistake in the past has been to voice our support to that commitment but not act on it. 

So here are some actionable steps. 

Educate yourself on the history of discrimination against Asian Americans and how not only race but gender, sexuality, disabilities and more have factored into that oppression. Donate to community groups that are focused on these issues; there are many groups nationwide that are accepting donations and pay attention to the work of local organizations like OCA Pittsburgh. Discuss these issues with people close to you to bring more awareness to what is going on. 

We cannot let people suffer in silence and turn a blind eye any longer.