On February 3, Noel Quintana was on his way to work when another subway rider slashed Mr. Quintana’s face from ear to ear, for simply asking the attacker to stop kicking his tote bag. Just a week earlier, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man was shoved and killed while out for a walk in his San Francisco neighborhood. Another 91-year-old Asian man was violently pushed to the ground in Oakland’s Chinatown.
These attacks are once again reminders of the Asian American community’s suffering this year. Our workers have been hit with the highest increase in unemployment rates across all racial groups. Our small businesses are closing at an unprecedented scale because they cannot sustain themselves during the economic downturn. Our seniors are afraid to leave their homes. Not only have our communities suffered disproportionately, but our suffering has also been made so much worse by the racism and violent attacks we have been facing for the past year.
Since early 2020, the Asian American Federation has been collecting reports of bias incidents and working with leaders to address the anti-Asian rhetoric and anti-immigrant policies driven by the former president and other national leaders. To date, there have been approximately 500 reports of bias incidents and hate crimes directed at our community in New York City, but we know that the number is a fraction of the actual number, as the majority of incidents go unreported.
Now we find the joy and hope of the upcoming Lunar New Year threatened by the increasing attacks on our community, especially our revered elders.
We, the undersigned, ask our leaders and fellow New Yorkers to unequivocally condemn the rising tide of hate crimes against our community. We must reckon with the fact that our Asian immigrant community, many of whom are working as frontline workers or managing multiple jobs as Mr. Quintana was, continues to be violently treated as outsiders in the communities they help sustain. For decades, our community has suffered under the dangerous model minority myth that pits us against other communities of color and that is used as a reason to ignore our pain and cast us as the perpetual foreigner.
We ask our neighbors and friends of all communities to stand with us to eradicate hate in our communities. We ask our fellow New Yorkers to look out for each other. Mr. Quintana was in a crowded train when he was attacked, yet only a few people stepped up to help him even though he was bleeding profusely. We are all in this together.
Here are some ways to help:
Support victims by advocating for recovery services offered in Asian languages to help them heal from the trauma.
Call on our leaders to go beyond verbal expressions of solidarity and take meaningful actions to provide us with the resources to navigate COVID-19 and address the racism that is plaguing Asian New Yorkers.
Ask our leaders to demonstrate their dedication to eradicating hate and ensuring real safety by creating a system of support that allows those who are being targeted to seek help in different places and ways.
Urge leaders to invest in meaningful strategies to bring marginalized communities together to build and heal during and after COVID-19.
Asian American Federation
Academy of Medical & Public Health Services
African Communities Together
Arab American Association of New York
Arab-American Family Support Center
Asian American Arts Alliance
Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund
Asian Americans for Equality
Brooklyn Chinese-American Association
Chhaya Community Development Corporation
Chinatown Manpower Project
Chinese-American Planning Council
Chinese Methodist Center Corporation
Chinese Progressive Association
Chung Pak LDC/Everlasting Pine HDFC
Coalition of Asian-American IPA
Damayan Migrant Workers Association
Immigrant Social Services, Inc.
Jahajee Sisters Empowering Indo-Caribbean Women
Japanese American Association of New York
Japanese American Social Services, Inc.
Korean American Family Service Center
Museum of Chinese in America
New York Urban League
Organization of Chinese Americans
Project New Yorker
Sakhi for South Asian Women
South Asian Youth Action
Turning Point for Women and Families