- The Covid-19 Pandemic yielded an increase hate crimes against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders healthcare workers.
- Asian-American healthcare workers felt that they always have to justify their existence.
- Diverse people of color and ethnicities have joined various rallies addressing the Asian-Crimes and bigotry with the support from the community.
- It is paramount to increase awareness and educate our community that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have been part of our nation’s fabric and solid contributors to the well being of the American people for centuries.
The recent guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin’s against the death of George Floyd has again proven the unsolved societal problems of racial injustice and inequity in our country. There remains to continue various discrimination incidents against African Americans and other communities of color, including Southeast Asian ethnic minorities. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic, there have been an increasing hate crimes including verbal assaults and physical attacks against Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders.
In February this year, 61-year-old Filipino Noel Quintana was attacked with a box cutter while riding the subway in New York City. The assailant freely walked away from the scene, while the elderly victim cried for help. Another victim of a hate crime was a 65-year-old Filipina who was kicked and stomped on the head multiple times along with being told “you don’t belong here.” While many of these hate crimes truly happen across the nation, many of these incidents were unreported due to the victim’s fear of retaliation. Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been 4,000 hate incidents which represent a 149% increase over the last year. The outcry prompted the Biden administration to recently pass a bipartisan bill to denounce the rising incidents of discrimination and violence against Asian communities in the United States.
Hate crimes and the Covid-19 pandemic pose a significant emotional and mental scarring to the Asian American Healthcare worker population. The 2020 census revealed that Asians comprised 6.4 percent of the population in the United States, in which a significant number were employed as healthcare practitioners. Over the last year, 31% of Asian-Americans have experienced episodes of hate crimes to include but not limited to verbal harassment, insults, jokes and unwelcome remarks both at work and outside work, many of whom are healthcare workers.
As an Asian-American healthcare worker, I personally experienced one insensitive situation being when my supervisor posted “Kim Jong Un” as his background during a Zoom business meeting. Beyond this experience, there have been news reports and articles where Asian frontline workers have encountered more serious and life-threatening incidents. A Chinese-American doctor from Boston Hospital was followed by a man in the subway shouting “Why are you Chinese people killing everyone, what’s wrong with you?” In another instance, a 29 year-old Filipino-Chinese anesthesiology resident encountered a man ranting “F— China!, F— the Chinese!, You people eat bats”.
According to Ming Liu, Ph.D, a counseling psychologist from University of Maryland Department of Counseling, Higher Education, and Special Education, “For the Asian American communities that are experiencing this, it just feels like an all-out assault.” Unfortunately, people are worried about the virus transmission that they associate with Asian faces. Grace Kao, a sociologist from Yale University, explained that “Nothing erases what we look like.” It is evident that people are making an automatic assumption.
While the Asian hate crime victims are risking their own personal health and well-being to help run the hospitals and save lives, it is mentally damaging to face the increasing harassment and blame for the virus pandemic. Many Asian healthcare workers felt that they always have to justify their existence. Others expressed that the racial encounters have affected their ability to focus on their work and not in the best state of mind to help out with patient care.
Nevertheless, to help combat the impact of bigotry, dozens of Asian doctors produced a video entitled “I am not a virus” to voice out and remove the stigma against Asian people. Others have joined various rallies addressing the Asian-Crimes and bigotry with the support from the community. Many believe that the act of coming together to acknowledge the injustice and voice out what we need to do as a community. It is also paramount to increase awareness and educate our community that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders have been part of our nation’s fabric since the 1700s. More importantly, the Asian-American and Pacific Islander healthcare workers’ solid contributions since the earlier development and modernization of our healthcare industry in the beginning of 20th century.