Students’ Response to Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

In light of the shooting in Atlanta, Georgia and the increase in Anti-Asian hate crimes since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we interviewed students and sent out a form to the student body on their thoughts and responses.

Reading Time: 5 minutes

“I feel disgusted by these hate crimes. I feel disappointed that many people find it so hard to treat people like people. I hope that instead of focusing so much on the perpetrator’s motive or life, we focus on those who have lost their lives. Let’s focus on the victims, learn about who they are, learn about their lives and their families, and support them in any way. Don’t give that murderer more attention, and please respect everyone because there is no way you know everything they are going through and feeling, and you cannot assume that based on race or other traits.” —anonymous freshman

“This has made me realize how much Stuy and really the whole culture around discussing race has failed people of color (POC) like myself. It takes a mass shooting to even start talking about racial tensions. And when my (primarily white) teachers do talk about it, they murmur sympathetically, show dainty PowerPoint presentations, reblog articles and say ‘This is so horrible.’ Do they ever feel like a parasite or a virus when they walk down streets? Do they feel the need to, like so many POC individuals, cover up with beanies and masks and cover up as much skin as possible to pass as white under fabric? I don't think so. They don't really know how it feels like, past articles and delicate conversations through Zoom and sympathetic Google Classroom posts. They—and other non-POC individuals—are supposed to care about brutal inequalities. But they aren't ever, ever supposed to fall victim to it.” —anonymous Sophomore

I feel very frustrated because many people are still ignoring the rise in hate crimes and/or telling me that there is no racism in America. I had someone tell me that I was making a big deal out of nothing when I told him about the Atlanta shooting and that the attack wasn’t racially motivated. I’m so tired of people making excuses for white terrorists, and I feel like, in the eyes of the government system and the general public, hate crimes don’t matter as long as a white person commits them. If a POC shot a white person and killed them, they’d get life in prison, so why is it that when a white person shoots and kills eight people (six of them Asian), he is portrayed as someone who “just had a bad day?” I really hope that Stuyvesant shows a strong front against racism and that the city actually cracks down on hate crimes (starting by identifying hate crimes as actual hate crimes and not just random shootings) so I can feel safe and accepted. As of now, I can’t even take a walk without being called a chink. It really is ridiculous.” —Rachel Lin, junior

It’s incredibly disgusting to me to see the increasing rise of hate crimes against Asian-Americans in this nation. It’s indicative of the harmful effects rhetoric can have on minority groups. Names such as “Kung Flu” or “the Chinese virus” have been used by notable political figures, including our former president, to describe COVID-19. This irresponsible and downright racist way of phrasing the virus has made people point to Chinese people as a scapegoat to take out their anger on. Trying to frame COVID-19 in a way that points to Chinese people as the cause of it emboldens bigots to carry out violence against them. It is one of the reasons the World Health Organization itself said that no ethnic or racial groups should be mentioned when naming an infectious virus, as it leads to indiscriminate violence against these groups as we are seeing now.

What also isn’t helping is the handling of this spike in hate crimes by the authorities. Many cases of racially motivated attacks have yet to lead to arrests, and when they do lead to arrests, in some cases including in the recent case of the stabbing of a Chinese man in Chinatown, the perpetrator arrested was not convicted of a crime. However, the most egregious of all is what happened with the Atlanta shooting. A white man, fueled by bigotry against Asian people, and specifically Asian women, killed eight people because he viewed Asian women as sex objects that were fueling his “sex addiction,” instead of human beings with emotions and livelihoods. The obvious police response would be to call out the actions of this bigot. However, what we got instead was a police officer saying the shooter was “fed up,” “at the end of his rope,” and “was having a bad day.” It is sickening to see the justification this shooter is getting for their actions. When there are cases of extremism carried out by people of color, they are vilified by the media and are used to justify hatred against their groups. However, when it’s a white person doing it, suddenly it is this nuanced discussion on mental health. There is no discussion to have here. This man is a bigot, and if not a bigot, a horrible piece of garbage who killed eight people. Seeing cops try to justify the acts of a racist simply emboldens other shooters to carry out the same actions. It’s simply disgusting, and I feel like if we want to see anything change regarding the current situation right now, we need our politicians and police officers to listen to the voices of Asian Americans and realize how some of what they’re saying is downright problematic and harmful.” —Luca Adeishvili, sophomore

“About the Atlanta shooting: the fact that the spokesperson had the audacity to say it was just a “bad day” for the culprit and the fact that the shooter blamed it on his sex addiction––it’s so hilarious. These people you murdered shouldn’t have and will never deserve to be victims of something you control. Your “sex addiction” doesn’t justify your actions or the reasons for your actions. Most of the people who are attacking Asian Americans, Asians, Pacific Islanders, are racist and uneducated. They think that they are right to attack innocent people and their justification is simply because “they're Asian.” It doesn't matter what race, gender, sexuality, etc. you are, no one should have to experience a hate crime or an unjustified and illogical attack because of something they can’t control.

COVID-19 began in Wuhan, China. At the time, the Asians and Asian Americans in the United States weren’t even in China. We couldn’t have caused it. Additionally, China as a whole should not be accused of the sole cause of the pandemic. For it to spread, it had to be because one person ate the food and got sick but gave it to others unknowingly. This being said, one person’s accidental action shouldn’t define all Asians all over the world. People didn’t catch COVID because it was spread by Asians. They caught COVID because people didn’t listen to the scientists, doctors, and medical experts. They didn’t take precautions as they should’ve. And they have the audacity to blame us, as if they were never wrong. It is absolutely hilarious that the people who attack us Asians for these stupid reasons are the same people who think they don’t need to wear masks and attacks Asians who are trying to protect themselves from getting COVID. And then you get COVID and now it’s their fault? The people you killed, the innocent women and men who were just doing their job, trying to provide for their family—some of these people are mothers, fathers, and grandmothers. These innocent people did not and never will deserve to have everything taken away from them for an unjustified and illogical reason. As for the murderers, the racially stupid and heartless people, there is blood tainted on your skin, blood tainted in your soul, all as a result of the evil deeds you committed. This is what white supremacy has become. This is what the world has become. To combat this, people must be unified and fight back together. No innocent person deserves or will never deserve the fate that the victims of the Asian hate crimes received.” —anonymous freshman