Racially motivated harassment of Asian Americans is a longstanding issue in the U.S., but in the year since COVID-19 entered the country, incidents have been on the rise.
As a result, many Asian Americans feel a “fog of terror,” says Amanda Nguyen, CEO and founder of Rise. “When people walk out the door, they don’t know if they’re going to get attacked and from where they’re going to get attacked,” Nguyen said. “If you hear these stories — they’re in grocery stores, they’re people walking on the street, they’re people living their daily lives.”
In order for people to recognized the full humanity and dignity of Asian Americans, more stories need to be told in a responsible manner, Nguyen said, because stories are empathy machines. “Silence is violence,” she said. “In order for us to be treated as human, people need to speak us into the consciousness of this country.”
Helen Zia, AAPI activist and author of “Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People,” said many important stories are missing because parts of the community have tried to disappear from the public during the pandemic because of fears of violence. People are scared to go to the doctors, get tested for COVID-19 or get vaccines, she said. “This is a terrible situation of a community that’s been driven underground by fear of real attacks that are happening,” Zia said.
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