The Epidemic of AAPI Racism in America

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Protesters gather to speak out against racism against Asian Americans. (Photo by Damian Dovarganes, AP)

Andy Dao, Staff Writer

Racism towards the AAPI (Asian American Pacific Islander) community has been downplayed for a long time in the United States. It’s more casual, normalized, and not frequently spoken about. A lot of casual racism I see was within younger kids. A lot of parents don’t teach their kids manners, which leads to children mocking one another, especially when it comes to bringing lunch from home. “When I was eating lunch at elementary school, I was called “ching-chong,” and they were also doing this (pushing their eyes up) at me. The school has mostly white kids so they kind of find an opportunity to say that at me every single time I ate.” Rancho Mirage High School freshman Alia Rye shared. 

I’ve also noticed how kids often end up making Asian kids feel like they need to play along with their jokes in order to not feel isolated in public school. Of course, as you mature, you’ll also grow to realize how low these jokes can be. “I often did (make fun of my own ethnicity) as a kid, since I was too scared to say otherwise or speak up against them. This was with people I knew and were friends with, but it’s sad looking back at it now.” Palms Spring High School freshman Caidie Zabate said. These jokes don’t only exist within school, you can find a lot of racially insensitive jokes on social media. For example, there was a recent trend going around with people reposting videos of a guy singing a song titled “热爱105°C的你” (Translation: Who You Love 105°). It then escalated into a chain of jokes about the Chinese government, and a lot of those involve claiming “Taiwan isn’t a country,” and mentioning the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989. It’s invalidating to many Taiwanese people, and tying cultures down to their tragic histories. A lot of these jokes also circle around common Asian stereotypes, about the food they eat, the traditions they follow, and comments regarding their intelligence.

The “Model Minority myth” is widely known and still is believed in today. The term implied that Asians excel other ethnic groups in an academic and economical field. The stereotype adds a lot of pressure that they need to live up to their idealistic standard, and is usually backed up by teachers or peers. “Although some people think that the “model minority” stereotype is a good one, it’s really influenced the way I see myself. I hate it when people discredit me or others’ hard work because, “You’re Asian, of course it isn’t hard for you.” ” Zabate said. It has also been used to discriminate against other minorities, but especially the black community has been the most affected, as it was historically used to put down the Civil Rights movement. “The image of the hard-working Asian became an extremely convenient way to deny the demands of African Americans,” said Jeff Guo in a Washington Post article.

Another issue that is still going on is the fetishization of certain Asian cultures while looking down on others. People would mock cultures they deem as “barbaric” and glorify cultures that seemed more appealing to them. The rise in popularity of East Asian media like anime and K-Pop made it a big problem within younger generations, but older generations as well. The phrase “yellow fever” was used to describe romantic and sexual desire for east and southeast Asians. The stereotype that Asian women are submissive and quiet rooted from this phrase. In online spaces, a lot of people would “Asian-fish”, doing their makeup to imitate (commonly) east Asian features. There has been a recent scandal involving celebrity Ariana Grande, which many people claim that she was Asian-fishing.Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic started, the hate only grew stronger. Former president Donald Trump even called it the “Chinese virus,” along with more anti-Asian remarks. This contributed to the rise of hate crimes towards Asians. “Oftentimes, the conversations that take place on social media results in real world consequences.” Dr. John Brownstein, an ABC News Medical Unit contributor and author said. The “Stop AAPI Hate” movement was created to fight against the bigotry presented to them. It was largely spread around social media at first, but it wasn’t long before it died down. Racism clearly has no place in our society, whether it was microaggression or violent. Educate yourself on the issue, lend people of color your support, and listen to their voices.