Rampant attacks on Asians on USA after the irruption of coronavirus has led members of this community in New York to go en masse to workshops where they teach how to act in the event of a possible racist aggression, and which are aimed at the most marginalized and unprotected communities.
“America’s East Asian Communities are blamed for the spread of the covid, for that reason, we are the scapegoat and, as a consequence, there have been and are attacks, such as the terrible ones we have seen on video, “the executive director of the Asian American Federation told EFE Jo-Ann Yoo.
Yoo holds the former president responsible, in part Donald Trump and his continuous derogatory references to covid which he described as “the Chinese virus” or the “Kung Flu” (the Kung flu), added to the state of collective frustration caused by the staggering number of deaths and the deep economic crisis.
“People need to find an escape valve to their anger and frustration, and I think that’s why members of the Asian American community are verbally harassed, spat upon and also, as we have seen, suffer more violent attacks, “he says.
According to the NGO “Stop AAPI Hate”, between March 2020 and March 2021 they were registered throughout the country 3,795 hate incidents against the Asian community in the US
68% were verbal attacks, 20.5% were actions in which a person from this community was deliberately ignored and in 11.1% of the cases they were physical attacks.
New York, the epicenter
Yoo assures that in New York, where the largest Asian community in the United States resides, 1,100 assaults were recorded, “more attacks than in any other city in the country”, although according to data from Stop AAPI Hate, California it is the state with the most aggressions.
“But we know that the 1,100 cases are only 10 or 30% of the incidents that actually occur, it is a very low number, and there are multiple reasons why people do not report,” says Yoo, who cites the “status uncertain immigration “, the fact that” shame “is very present in Asian American culture, or lack of command of English.
For this reason, he explains that his organization has launched an awareness campaign in neighborhoods with an Asian majority such as Chinataown in Manhattan, but also in Queens and in Brooklyn, where businesses and inhabitants suffer this wave of racist violence.
The Stop AAPI Hate report also reveals that women were the target of 68% of the attacks.
Yoo recounts how she herself, in April 2020, was the target of two attacks racists very close to his home, in a “very hipster” neighborhood of New York, whose name he prefers not to mention.
She confesses that she considered herself “very brave”: “I always thought I was, that nothing scared me (…) but you know, at that moment I wanted to make myself small, I wanted to disappear”.
“I’m afraid to go outside. I am not the only one, there are many like me, especially because Asian American women are small and it is scary for us to go out, “adds Yoo, before assuring that she does not want to be part of the crime statistics, so she limits her movements near your home and take a taxi if you have to move within the city.
How to defend yourself
The fear in the Asian community is such that when you access the website of the association run by Yoo (www.aafederation.org), the first thing that appears on the home page are some “security resources” to “be safe from a racist anti-Asian attack.”
In four documents, prepared in cooperation with the “Center for Education Against Violence“Various strategies are offered to avoid racist aggression, reduce tension or how to defend oneself in the event of physical violence.
The director of the program “Empowerment for self-defense” of this center, Rej Joo, explains to Efe how before the pandemic, only 2 or 3% of those attending their courses were of Asian origin, while now they occupy 75% of the places offered.
His programs, he says, offer resources to different communities such as LGTBI, immigrants or women victims of sexist violence, among others, who need tools to defend themselves.
With their courses, says Rej, they intend that “people feel that they have enough resources in their toolbox so that they are able to respond in a situation of harassment or violence “.
In the last course held this April focused on the East Asian community, 24% of attendees claimed to have been the object of an attack and 33% of having witnessed an incident of racism or violence against an Asian American.
“Our workshops offer people a kind of brainstorming on these issues, because most people don’t think about it on a day-to-day basis. Everyone has a job and is busy, but they have to make an effort to come. to one of these sessions to focus and think: ‘What can I do if I find myself in this situation? ‘”, says Rej.
How to intervene
For Jo-Ann Yoo, “What is even sadder is that most of these attacks are happening In public places and people are not stepping up to help their fellow New Yorkers. “
For this reason, Rej also emphasizes that his courses are not only designed for people who directly suffer an attack, but also for those who witness it because: “If our violence is increasing, our care (for others) it also has to increase, to compensate for that“.
A person who witnesses an assault may have a legitimate fear to intervene, but may also help, for example by “making noise.”
“That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re saying ‘hey, I want to fight you.’ It’s just an alarm and usually people who don’t want trouble are going to run away, so there are many strategies different distractions that we can use just to stop the violence, “says Rej.
But the monitor also insists that if the fear of being attacked keeps you paralyzed, it is also very important that, after the attack, once there is no danger, one approaches the victim to show support and offer help if needed .