STOP Asian Hate!

by Karen Nelson

May is Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. What should be a time of celebration, this year has been marred with violence. Like you, I have watched in horror as a rampant increase in violence toward Asian Americans has grown in the past year and continue to rise at an alarming rate. This recent surge in violent attacks against Asian Americans has captured the nation’s attention. We are not immune to it locally. An under-reported crime for many reasons including language and cultural reasons, we have had documented cases right here in Appleton! The xenophobic history of our nation is clear. This latest surge in anti-Asian hate is the newest stain left by the historic and systematic racist violence and oppression that targets our Asian communities. As difficult as it is to process these events with the frequency and severity they appear in the news, unfortunately, the hate we are witnessing today is not new. Dealing with this hate goes back to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, declarations of the “yellow peril” in 1897, to the 2019 Public Charge Rule. It has even compelled those in power to dub COVID-19 the “Chinese virus” and “Kung-Flu”! These are racial slurs. Don’t be fooled. This is not about the COVID-19 virus. Coronavirus does not discriminate based on race or ethnicity. In fact, people of color are dying at a higher rate during the pandemic. A person or a race of people is not a virus. Hate IS a virus! To our Asian residents – I see you, I love you and you belong in Appleton.

The mindset that gives dirty looks and spreads ugly rumors can sadly escalate to violence. Stop that mindset in its tracks! As a City that proclaims, “Hate has no Home Here”, I ask EACH OF YOU to take meaningful, actionable steps to stand in solidarity with our Asian Community. Have conversations with loved ones, friends, colleagues, and neighbors about how to support our Asian community. Support Asian businesses. Reach out and ask our community members who are feeling vulnerable right now, what you can do to support them. Be an Upstanding Bystander. When you see something, say something! Counteract efforts to dampen their voices by amplifying their voices, initiate sincere conversation with those who are frustrated and living in fear right here in our own community. Sharing our stories unite us.

It takes a full community effort to ensure that this frustration does not get channeled into hate and scapegoating. I ask you to join me in saying something to your AAPI neighbors and colleagues. Ask them how they’re REALLY doing. Tell them you are there for them if they need to talk or not talk. Ask if there is anything you can or should do to be supportive. This is traumatic during a time when anti-Asian hate and violence is on the rise. Show up. Even if you’re uncomfortable. Especially if you are. Just show up. Here are a few resources: