Racism Against Asians and Middle-Eastern Americans
Racism is defined as an ideology that defends the superiority of one race against others and the need to keep the inferior races isolated or separated from the rest of the community or country. Beyond this definition, the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about racism is stereotypes.
Stereotypes are one of the pillars of racism since these make people judge others by their skin color. For example, if you are Asian, the stereotype is that you must be very intelligent, or that if you are black, you will surely be a thief. These unsubstantiated ideas are passed down from generation to generation and from community to community. No one is born a racist, but we learn to become racists from our environment and those around us.
What is Racism?
Racism is a very abstract concept that refers to the act of discriminating against people according to their race, or to the tendency to frequently engage in this kind of discrimination. According to Oxford dictionary, it is defined as "prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against a person or people based on their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalized." In simple words, it is a belief in the superiority of one race over another.
Racism can be revealed by people's actions and their behaviors. But sometimes it may not be shown at all. For example, if you're choosing someone as your secretary or going through job applications, you may subconsciously not like candidates with certain surnames.
Racism can be in many forms and can happen at any place. Most of the time, people associate racism with abuse or harassment, but it doesn't have to be like that.
Racism is more than just an act or belief of a few people. Racism can not only be individual, but systemic or institutional and prevents people from enjoying their dignity and equal rights.
Racism against Asians And Middle-Easterns
For decades, Asians and Middle Eastern Americans have faced racism due to their skin color and their features. They are bullied, insulted, solely for belonging to a particular race. For something that they have no control over, millions of Americans have days where they are insulted, discriminated against, and disadvantaged due to their race.
We are living with racism, and now, it has become an established part of life that everyone assumes it will continue to exist in the U.S. and that it’s okay. People often fail to notice racism even if it’s happening right in front of them or they themselves are carrying out racist actions against certain people. No one takes a stand against racism, because they wonder to themselves: is it worth it to take a stand? What will change a society that has such a long history of racism and oppression?
Even in a country founded on the idea that all people are equal, and deserve equal opportunity, people are devalued because of their skin color, blamed for various societal ills, and seen as problematic communities that need fixing, rather than embracing.
Examples of Racism against Muslims in America
Almost two decades ago, Muslims were blamed for terror attacks, and they had faced the worst kinds of racism at this time. They were bullied, insulted, and murdered. People with Muslim names like Mohammad, Hussain, Osama, etc. were physically assaulted and insulted. Women with hijabs did not go outside for fear of being attacked by racists or extremists. Those who are Muslim can attest that Muslims believe racism is a sin, and we should punish people for being racist against others. Islam taught us the lesson of equality 1,400 years ago.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, "Your God is one, and your ancestor (Adam) is one. An Arab is not greater than a non-Arab, and a non-Arab is not greater than an Arab. And a red (white tinged with red) person is not better to black, and black is not greater than red, except in piety." (Musnad Ahmad).
We have to change our concepts. We have to change our minds that racism is not fair.
This country will not change until it reexamines itself and discovers what it really means by freedom…(It) is an inexorable law that one cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own. - James Baldwin
It's time to stand against racism; no one will come along to change our thinking and concepts that racism is a sin.
Desmond Tutu once said:-
"My humanity bound up in yours, for we can only be human together."
He also said:-
"If you are neutral in conditions of injustice, you have selected the oppressor's side."
In this pandemic, the cases of racism are increasing. Why?
As the death toll of coronavirus-related cases has reason, and many have had their businesses and livelihoods impacted by the pandemic, people are seeking for a scapegoat to dispel their anger towards. And that scapegoat has become Asian, Middle Eastern, and African Americans.
People in America are shouting insults and trying to engage them in conflict with phrases like, "you immigrants", "Asian Dogs" and "death to dog eaters."
Cases of Racism against Asians and Middle-Easterns
In different countries, Asians and Middle eastern people are facing racism. Some cases of racism are reported to the police, but the majority of cases are not reported. Asians and other people color face physical assaults, taunting, insult, and much more unethical behavior.
The government of some countries have established laws against racism and the same rules for all residents, but some people do not obey the rules.
Let’s explore the recent facts and numbers.
In this COVID-19 pandemic, these cases of racism against Asians and Middle-Easterners have risen because they blame Asians and Middle Eastern people for spreading coronavirus. With the start of coronavirus in February 2020, the cases of racism increased. In March, the number of cases increased even more. People bullied, taunted and insulted Asians, leading to headlines such as "Coronavirus outbreak stokes anti-Asian bigotry worldwide” (The Japan Times Online, 18 February 2020).
According to London's metropolitan police, the number of racial cases against Asians rose to 166 in February and March. There have been almost 267 anti-Asian hate incidents reported across the UK, reported by Sky News in early May.
In Italy, 50 reports of assaults, verbal, harassment, and bullying against Asians and Middle Eastern resident were collected by the civil society group, Lunaria.
- According to Authorities in New York City and Los Angeles, hate incidents against people of Asian have increased.
- San Francisco State University says that it got over 1,700 reports of coronavirus-related racism incidents from at least 45 US states since it began its survey in March.
- In Texas, an Asian family, with a two-year-old and six-year-old baby, was stabbed in a supermarket. An FBI report obtained by ABC News said that "the suspect indicated that he stabbed the family because he thought the family was Chinese, and were infecting people with the coronavirus." The family was Southeast Asian.
- Police in at least 13 states, including Texas, Washington, New Jersey, Minnesota, and New Mexican, reported hate incidents amongst people of color.
- The New York police reported 14 hate incidents involving 15 Asians who were physically injured.
- In the UK, Asian people have been punched by strangers, insulted and taunted for supposedly spreading the coronavirus
- In Africa, many Asians and Middle Eastern residents were accused of spreading COVID-19.
- Media in Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa also reported cases of racism against Asian and Middle Easterners
- In the U.S., there have been over 1,983 reported cases of racism, anti-Asian discrimination, and attacks in the US. Nearly 40% come from California. Many more go unreported.
- An Asian woman in New York City attacked on a subway station because she wore a mask. A stranger called her “diseased” for doing so.
- In Los Angeles, a 16-year-old student of Asian descent was assaulted by his friends because of their fear of COVID-19
- In Fresno, an Asian man car's was vandalized with the note "Fuck Asians and coronavirus."
- A video filmed in Miami shows an old woman being chased by a man yelling, "come here! You need some hand sanitizer” and holding a bottle of sanitizer.
Asian doctors and healthcare workers are also fighting against racism. They experienced a sharp increase in racist attacks during the coronavirus pandemic. One medical professional said, "People make automatic assumptions, especially in times of threats, and go into fight-or-flight mode. The fighting mode is attacking or harassing Asians, and the flight mode is shunning Asians."
How can we stop racism?
The cases of discrimination are increasing, and the government should take serious steps against racism. Some countries and organizations amended their constitutions and charters to deal with these growing cases. Many countries established equal rights for their citizens.
John Sifton, Asia advocacy director, said, "Racism and physical attacks on Asians and people of Asian descent have spread with the COVID-19 pandemic, and government leaders need to act decisively to address the trend," and. "Governments should act to expand public outreach, promote tolerance, and counter hate speech while aggressively investigating and prosecuting hate crimes."
United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres said that "the pandemic continues to unleash a tsunami of hate and xenophobia, scapegoating and scaremongering" and persuade governments to "act now to strengthen the immunity of our societies against the virus of hate."
Protests against Racism - Silence is Pro-Racist
After the death of Floyd, a Black man killed by a white Minneapolis police officer who pressed his neck for almost nine minutes, worldwide protests began to demonstrate against racism and police cruelty and to support the black community.
According to a recent study, young black males were 21 times more likely to be killed dead by police than their white counterparts.
Many statues of slave owners around the world have been toppled, for their ties in history to slavery or planation work. On many buildings, people painted "I can't breath”. People went out to the streets and stood with those who suffered discrimination, and shouted together the slogans of "silence is pro-racist", "blacks live matter", and "it's a white problem."
Protesters want justice for those who were killed brutally because of the color of their skin. They also want equal civil rights for everyone and appeal to the government to take some serious actions against racism. These protests are really making a change against racism.
Impacts of Racism
Racism does not just impact the individual encountering racism at that time, but racism actually extends its negative effects to even the children, relatives, and colleagues of that individual. The impact lies not just with the individual victim, but even with the perpetrator of racism, it will then affect the way that his family, friends, and children treat other people of color.
Here is a rundown on the effects and impacts of racism.
What happens to children when they face racism?
- It hurts the children mentally and emotionally
- It affects their health
- It reduces the chances of achieving a good and successful life
- It impacts their future health and prospects
- It reduces access to educational opportunities
What happens to youth and adults when they face racism?
- Racism affects the mental health of youth
- It exerts on the negative impact on their self-image
- It decreases their confidence in various areas of life
- It reduces employment opportunities
- It negatively affects their economic status
- It makes them stressed out and emotionally traumatized
How to Deal with Racism?
If you are facing racism in your school, tell it to your teacher or principal. If you are facing it in public, call the police or record the encounter. If you are facing it in public transport, e.g., bus or train, tell it to the driver. If you notice racism on social media, report that material and keep evidence to later on build your case. You have to involve people in your case and remember that you have a right to make sure that these offenses do not repeat.
Racism is prejudice against a person on the basis of his particular traits or his membership in a particular group. Racism can be revealed by behavior and actions. It can be in many forms, and it can happen at any place. Racism is not just abusive behavior or harassment. It is more than an act or belief. For centuries, Asians and Russians have been living with racism.
They are bullied and insulted because they belong to a specific race, and they possess a specific skin color, which is not fair. We should know that race or color do not decide that we are superior to someone, or someone is inferior to us. People should be judged by their past history, positions, qualities, not with their race, color, or cultural background.
In this pandemic of Coronavirus, the racial cases are increasing. People blame Asians and Middle-Eastern people for the spread of Coronavirus. Hundreds of racists cases and hate incidents reports are abound after COVID-19. The government must play an important role in minimizing these racist cases after the murder of George.
The protesters may have toppled the statues of past slave owners, but racism still exists today. Racism affects everyone's life, not only for the Black community, but also for other people of color and minorities. Instead of viewing it as a singular community's issue, we all should stand in solidarity to create a better society for all.