Analysis & Comment

Opinion | Asian-American Victims of Violence, and the Bystanders

To the Editor:

Re “Filipino Woman Attacked While Others Stood By” (front page, March 31):

I am an Asian-American woman who was born and raised in the South. I have had plenty of people point at my face and remark how small my eyes are, or how flat my nose is. Plenty of people who have asked me if I am good at math, know karate, eat dogs, have a “Tiger Mom” or whether I’d still be alive if I’d been born a girl in China.

You may think these must have happened on the elementary school playground (they did), but they also happened in the workplace, at a college interview and in a grocery store, to name a few.

While I’ve experienced these instances of racism, I have never before witnessed such cruelty as over the past several months. Never before have I seen someone forcibly push a 65-year-old woman down to the ground and proceed to kick her head. Never before have I seen someone go on a shooting spree and kill innocent women at work. These acts targeted Asian-Americans.

I refuse to believe that such cruelty exists so widely in this country of diversity, and yet I cannot help but ask myself — why have there been so many hate crimes? Why have there been so many bystanders who assume they are only there to watch, not to report, not to intervene?

Asian-Americans did not cause Covid-19. We are not here to be spat on and vilified for “the Chinese virus.” I ask you as one person to another, please recognize that we are all humans.

Alice Yen
Raleigh, N.C.

To the Editor:

I was disgusted to learn of the beating of another Asian-American, this time a 65-year-old woman, in broad daylight and in full view of building staff and delivery people at an apartment building and captured on surveillance video.

Three men watch the violent attack of a petite woman by a man almost twice her size. After knocking the woman down and fiercely kicking her head and chest, the attacker walked way. Just as I thought the men would go to assist, they callously shut the door to the apartment building, literally turning their backs on a helpless victim. The behavior of the onlookers was just as shocking, if not more so, than the outright violence of the attacker.

This is just another example of the xenophobia and racist behavior against Asians in the wake of Covid. Sadly, attacks against Asian-Americans are not new, and reflect the racism and scapegoating of Asian-Americans in this country. The Asian-American community needs allies to stand up and stand with them against scapegoating and violence.

Patricia Welch
Kew Gardens, Queens
The writer is a professor of comparative literature and director of Asian studies at Hofstra University.

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