By a Biometrica staffer
Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition, said it received 9,081 reports of hate incidents committed against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community since the Covid-19 pandemic began, i.e., between March 2020 and June 30, 2021. The total number of such incidents this year, at 4,533 through the first six months, appears poised to overtake last year’s entire total of 4,548 hate incidents that were reported to Stop AAPI Hate.
The coalition tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against the AAPI community and, according to Associated Press News, became the authority on gathering data on racially motivated attacks related to the pandemic. In just the three months of April–June 2021, the number of incidents reported to Stop AAPI Hate spiked to 9,081 from 6,603 (when taken as a cumulative total starting from March 2020).
AAPI victims have faced everything from taunts to outright assaults after the pandemic began and the virus was first reported in China. It was a tenuous association between these two facts that led to people of AAPI descent being at the receiving end of hate. Lawmakers, activists, and community groups have pushed back against the wave of attacks, the Associated Press said in its report on the Stop AAPI Hate numbers.
There have been countless social media campaigns, bystander training sessions, and public rallies. The bipartisan Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act was signed into law by President Joe Biden in May, with the express aim of curtailing a dramatic rise in hate crimes against the AAPI community. While the incidents appear to be continuing seemingly unabated, Stop AAPI Hate leaders said supporters should not feel discouraged because the data hasn’t shifted much, the Associated Press said.
“When you encourage hate, it’s not like a genie in a bottle where you can pull it out and push it back in whenever you want. There’s too much perpetuating these belief systems to make them go away,” said Manjusha Kulkarni, co-founder of Stop AAPI Hate and Executive Director of the Asian Pacific Policy and Planning Council, according to the Associated Press.
According to Stop AAPI Hate data, verbal harassment (63.7%) and shunning (16.5%) — the deliberate avoidance of people belonging to the AAPI community — continue to make up the two largest proportions of the total incidents reported. A majority of these incidents are traumatic and harmful, but are not hate crimes, the coalition adds on its website.
Physical assault (13.7%) was the third largest category of total reported incidents, followed by being coughed at or spat on (8.5%). Physical assaults increased from 10.8% of the total hate incidents in 2020 to 16.6% in 2021. Civil rights violations — for instance, workplace discrimination, refusal of service, and being barred from transportation — accounted for 11% of the total incidents while online harassment made up 8.3% of the total.
Most of incidents reported took place outside the home and in spaces often open to the public. Public streets (which accounted for 31.6% of incidents) and businesses (30.1% of incidents) remain the top sites where anti-AAPI hate occurs, the coalition said. Hate incidents reported by women accounted for 63.3% of all reports. Youth (0 to 17 years old) reported 9.9% of incidents and seniors (60 years old and older) reported 6.9% of the total incidents.
Chinese people have reported more hate incidents (43.5%) than all other ethnic groups, followed by Koreans (16.8%), Filipinx (9.1%), the Japanese (8.6%), and the Vietnamese (8.2%). Of all hate incidents reported, 48.1% included at least one hateful statement regarding anti-China and/or anti-immigrant rhetoric.
In February, we wrote about how an FBI report released in November 2020 showed that hate crime in the U.S. reached its highest level in more than a decade in 2019, and that was before the pandemic struck. According to that FBI report, there were 7,314 hate crime incidents in 2019, up from 7,120 the year before — the highest since 7,783 in 2008.
It was during the same month that a spate of attacks on Asian Americans, especially the elderly, left the community shocked and worried. Per the latest Stop AAPI Hate data, more seniors (60 years old and older) reported hate incidents in 2021 than they did in 2020. Also in February of this year, a report from the American Bar Association showed that the New York Police Department saw an eightfold increase in reported anti-Asian hate crimes compared to the same period in 2019.
A total of 1,864 suspects in matters involving violations of federal hate crime statutes were investigated by U.S. attorneys during the fiscal years 2005 to 2019, the Bureau of Justice Statistics had said in a report published in July on federal hate crime prosecutions. The number of hate crime matters investigated during 2015–19 fell 8% from 2005–09, the report added. However, the conviction rate rose to 94% from 83% during the same comparable periods.
In June, California’s Department of Justice released a recently compiled report on hate crime events and offenses that showed reports of overall bias-related events increased 31% in 2020, up to 1,330 from 2019’s 1,015. The last time it was that high was in 2008. Anti-Black and anti-Asian prejudice was “particularly pronounced,” that report had noted.
The impact on the elderly from these crimes, particularly since Covid-19, was summed up well by Anni Chung, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Self-Help for the Elderly: “Sometimes when we talk to seniors, they say this hatred drove them to be stuck in their house even worse than the pandemic,” Chung told the Associated Press.