“I get the worst compliments all the time. ‘Oh you’re Asian? I love orange chicken.” – Jo Koy
Five years ago, the release and subsequent success of the movie Crazy Rich Asians marked what seemed like a new chapter for the Asian American community. As the highest-grossing romantic comedy in a decade and the sixth highest ever, it appeared to signal greater recognition for Asians not just in Hollywood, but in society at large.
This sentiment was further underscored when the movie Everything Everywhere All At Once took home nearly every Oscar it was nominated for this year. Many viewed this as another critical turning point, one that could herald equal opportunities for Asian Americans and foster a more Asian-inclusive American culture.
However, recent events tell a different story. The Allen Mall shooting in Texas, the anti-Asian slur from Georgia lineman Jamaal Jarrett, and even bipartisan efforts to ban TikTok underscore a reality that contrasts with these strides.
The surge in anti-Asian sentiment, fanned by the COVID-19 pandemic and certain political figures who referred to the virus as the "China virus" or "Kung Flu," has both unmasked and intensified anti-Asian xenophobia and racism. Yet, these issues are not new. Asian Americans have grappled with this reality for generations, as anti-Asian sentiment has long been entrenched in American history. To fully understand this, we can look back to several historical events:
The Chinese Massacre of 1871 saw a mob of white and Hispanic residents violently attack the Chinese community in Los Angeles, resulting in the death of nineteen Chinese immigrants and the displacement of the entire Chinese population.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first significant law restricting immigration into the United States, effectively suspended Chinese immigration for a decade, signaling the start of an intense anti-Chinese period.
The internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, led to the incarceration of over 120,000 Japanese Americans under Executive Order 9066. The majority of those interned were American citizens, many of them children.
The surge of hate crimes and discrimination post-9/11, targeted individuals of Middle Eastern, South Asian, or Muslim descent, resulting in numerous assaults, murders, and arson attacks.
Fast forward to today, recent data paints a sobering picture. A survey by the Asian American Foundation found that:
Half of all Asian Americans reported feeling unsafe in the U.S. due to their thnicity.
80% of Asian Americans felt a lack of acceptance and belonging.
Nearly 75% of Chinese Americans experienced racial discrimination within the past year.
Adding to this, the FBI noted an increase in hate crimes against Asian Americans:
In San Francisco, anti-Asian hate crimes surged by 567% in 2021 from the previous year.
Nearly 11,500 hate crimes were committed against Asian Americans nationwide.
A December 2021 survey by the Center for Neighborhood Knowledge at UCLA found that many Asian American-owned businesses, significantly affected by the pandemic, continue to struggle. Around 56% of respondents indicated partial recovery, while 22% reported no recovery at all.
However, it's crucial to remember the remarkable contributions of Asian Americans to the U.S. economy:
Over 10% of all U.S. businesses are Asian-American-owned.
Asian American-owned employer firms constitute more than 40% of all minority-owned employer firms in the U.S.
These businesses create 4.6 million jobs per year, contributing over 58% of the $1.4 trillion in revenue generated by all U.S. minority-owned firms.
Given these statistics and the projected growth of the Asian American community, their role in the nation's recovery is indisputable. Asian American-owned businesses grew by 23.8% between 2007 and 2012, during and after the recession, outpacing the national average.
So, how can we support this critical community? There are countless ways, from shopping at their stores, ordering food, using their services, and consuming Asian-produced content, to promoting them on social media, leaving positive online reviews, and referring them to others.
Our collective support is invaluable, and every action, big or small, counts. Consistency and commitment are key. Let's join hands to stop Asian hate and pave the way toward a more inclusive society and stronger economic recovery for our country as a whole.
For help with your Asian American Pacific Islander-owned, minority-owned, women-owned, black-owned, and LGBTQ-owned business, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.