The age-old virus: racism continues to infect and divide our society

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Bradey Resulta, Writer

People are losing their jobs, colleges are being closed, and grocery store shelves are emptied while COVID-19 continues its merciless spread throughout the world. It is a pandemic, and it’s going to get worse before it gets better. It seems that our lives have been uprooted and cast aside. And at this rate, it’s hard to believe that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. Bellies are hungry and wallets are empty. This level of uncertainty renders us hopeless. 

Now, imagine acquiring an additional stressor in response to COVID-19. According to the 2010 Census, there are 17.3 million people in the United States that are more susceptible to additional fears than the other 349.9 million. 

You are a part of this 17.3 million if you are an Asian American. And if you are Asian American it is possible that you are or will be a victim of violent hate crimes and ignorance.  

Whether it be micro-aggressive or blatant racism, the Asian American population has become the scapegoat for the origin of COVID-19. There are cases across the United States that have come to light through various social media platforms that document some of the horrific instances that Asian Americans have had to endure. 

Lillie Lee, a junior Education student at Marian University, says, “In our communities there are stories of hateful messages to families, physical attacks, and unnecessary comments from professors, which really disheartens me. It makes me more fearful of the hate than catching the actual virus, which is terrible. I am fearful for what may arise next.” 

People have been covering their mouths when they are within the same vicinity as someone of Asian descent. There are videos and images of Asian Americans being physically attacked and spit on.  

On Thursday, March 19, the Asian Pacific Policy & Planning Council (A3PCON) launched a website where community members can document and submit instances of hate crimes that they experience or witness 

This resource will assist in determining the specifics needed to prove that the influx of hate crimes against Asian Americans is a response to COVID-19. The information gathered will also help officials see the need for stronger protections for Asian American communities, provide resources for victims, and implement public education programs. 

In the website’s first 24 hours of availability, there had been more than 40 reports. The numbers have since been rising, exponentially. 

A3PCON is “… a coalition of community-based organizations that advocates for the rights and needs of the Asian and Pacific Islander American (APIA) community in the greater Los Angeles area, with a particular focus on low income, immigrant, refugee and other disadvantaged sectors of the population.” 

The website, Stop AAPI Haterequires thorough documentation of the incident to be submitted. The time, place, and type of discrimination are some of the details that they ask for. 

Lee says, “I wish that individuals could see this as a public health issue. Many are being treated and many are at risk. But this also shows the conscious and unspoken bias that existed in communities beforehand.”  

This level of hatred and xenophobia is familiar territory for citizens of the United States. It is entangled in the roots of our foundation as we fall back into the comfort zone of being spiteful and close-minded.  

Looking for answers in times of uncertainty is a humane response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Our feelings are hurt, and we are scared. But it’s time to be afraid of the virus, not those who look “different.”

Even in our most trying times, we fail to come together. We choose to drive an inoperable wedge between communities. Ask yourselves, is hate all we know? 

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If you experience or witness a hate crime against Asian Americans, visit Stop AAPI Hate to submit an incident report.  

You should also make efforts to contact local law enforcement to document the incident. Hate crimes are illegal in Wisconsin. 

In the case that it is an emergency, call 911 for immediate attention.