“My clients love me so much. They even bring Christmas cookies for my children during the holiday season. A couple of them are like family friends, and we take our kids together to the park,” said a woman who asked to remain anonymous for fear of her safety. The woman runs a nail salon in Indianapolis with her cousins and siblings. She has a small room in the back of her salon where her kids hang out after school. Kids watch TV, play games, finish the homework and sometimes come upfront to hug their mom. She works very long hours, so her mom brings dinner for the family at the salon. All was going well till last year.
Due to COVID, her salon was closed for more than three months, and the business was slow for a few months, but it recovered well in the last few months. However, she is very scared of her safety after the Atlanta massacre that killed six Asian women. She says, “My children and the entire family are at the salon all the time. Although I felt very safe here for years, it is a bit risky to run a retail business as an Asian woman.”
On March 16, Robert Aaron Long killed eight people, including six Asian women in Georgia, at three massage parlors. Long told police that the attacks were not racially motivated. He claimed to have a “sex addiction,” and authorities said he lashed out at what he saw as sources of temptation. The horrific incident has shaken the Asian- American community nationally as this is yet another violent incident targeting Asians-Americans.
During this past year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Asian Americans have suffered from a spike in hate incidents directed at them. The acts of hostility ranged from verbal bullying and microaggressions to physical assaults and lethal violence. The novel coronavirus was loosely referred to as the “China virus,” “Kung flu,” or “Wuhan virus,” on political forums and social media that is assumed to have increased anti-Asian sentiments across the nation. Anti-Asian hate crime in 16 of America’s largest cities increased 149% in 2020, according to an analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, with the first spike occurring in March and April amid a rise in COVID cases and negative stereotyping of Asians relating to the pandemic.
According to a survey, 40% of Asian Americans reported experiencing at least one of several acts, like being coughed or spit on, verbally or even physically attacked. Businesses are the primary site of discrimination, where 35.4% of hate incidents were logged; 25.3% of reported incidents took place in public streets, followed by 9.8% that occurred in public parks. In Indiana, several cases of violence and discrimination are reported by Asian businesses and individuals. In response to recent events, Gov. Eric Holcomb said, “Anyone that seeks to terrorize or cause fear needs to be held accountable for that. Racism is counter to Hoosier values. It’s not what we stand for. I championed and signed a historic bias crimes law in 2019 to protect those who are the target of these crimes and to take a strong stand against targeted violence. There is no higher priority than the safety and security of Hoosiers.” Many corporate and community leaders expressed their support for Asian Americans and condemned racism.
President of the Korean American Association of Indiana Hai Soo Woo said, “The entire Korean community of Indiana is deeply saddened by the mass shooting in the Atlanta area. We urge not only Asian American communities but everyone out there to join us to raise the voice to stop these hate crimes.”
Racism and hate are deep-rooted diseases that need to be eliminated. It needs education and advocacy by all of us. Asians are not a virus. Hispanics are not illegals. Blacks are not a threat. LGBTQs are not sinners. Muslims are not terrorists. Women are not sex objects and whites are not racist. We are all humans.
To report a hate crime, call the Indiana Civil Rights Commission at 317-232-2600, Toll-Free 1-800-628-2909, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rupal Thanawala is managing director at Trident Systems, leading business and technology consulting practice, and tech editor for the Indianapolis Recorder. Contact her at email@example.com.