Addressing Anti-Asian Hate
I can’t stomach it anymore. Nearly every day, I see video of innocent Asian Americans being violently slammed to the ground. I cringe at pictures of bruised and swollen faces. Making it even more sickening, a rash of assaults in the Bay Area have involved elderly victims.
When will it stop? Since the start of the pandemic, hate incidents against Asian Americans have dramatically spiked, as people wrongly blame them for COVID-19 and the hardships that came with it. In all instances, the racist attacks were unprovoked.
As a result of this alarming trend, the StopAAPIHate.org tracking website launched a year ago, serving as a portal for victims to self-report their experiences. It has logged nearly 4,000 incidents across the country. Approximately half occurred in California, ranging from verbal harassment and discrimination to physical assaults – sometimes with deadly consequences, as illustrated in the case of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee who died from head injuries earlier this year in my district after being pushed for no reason.
We’ve seen this hate before – the Chinese Exclusion Act, the unjust internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, the murder of Vincent Chin – the list goes on and on. Black, Muslim, LGBTQ and other marginalized communities continue to be targeted today. We all have an obligation to do what we can to stand up against bigotry.
As a state legislator, I’m doing my part. I’m proud to have secured $1.4 million in the state budget to help confront the problem. The funding supports community outreach and data-gathering efforts, including those of the Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate collaborative, comprised of the Asian American Studies Departments at San Francisco State University and UCLA, Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA) and the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council (A3PCON). Together, they run StopAAPIHate.org. In order to address the problem, we have to know how big it is, and documenting as much as we can is crucial.
The state also has resources to support victims. The Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB) can help provide reimbursements for medical treatment, psychotherapy, income loss and other costs resulting from victims’ injuries. Services are administered through district attorneys’ offices; San Franciscans can reach the District Attorney’s Victim Services Office at (415) 553-9044. The CalVCB website at victims.ca.gov also includes a link to apply for compensation and a list of local resources, and the CalVCB Helpline is at (800) 777-9229.
As much as I’m disheartened by this dark chapter in our history, I am also encouraged. Communities have come together to take a stand against hate. Groups have formed to support the victims and help keep people safe. I thank all of you who have joined the Stop Asian Hate rallies, intervened when someone is victimized, escorted fearful seniors or performed other acts of kindness.
These are the types of efforts that will stamp out hate and make our communities stronger. Racism is not a problem that can be fixed with increased police presence or harsher prison sentences. We must work together to conquer COVID-19 and promote greater acceptance and understanding, not point fingers.
Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) represents the 19th Assembly District, which includes the west side of San Francisco along with the communities of Broadmoor, Colma and Daly City. He lives in the Sunset District. He can be reached at (415) 557-2312 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information and updates, visit https://a19.asmdc.org.