Hate crimes are increasing in numbers; Asian Americans have been targeted at least 500 times in the last two months. On Tuesday, six Asian women were shot and killed in the Atlanta area, shocking the country even after months in voicing concerns over anti-Asian violence. Stop AAPI Hate has been tracking violence and harassment against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders since March last year, and received over 3,000 complaints in 2020. But in just the first two months of 2021, over 500 complaints were recorded. The most effective way to fight back against anti-Asian hate, according to Pawan Dhingra, a professor of American Studies at Amherst College, is to make a lasting effect and meaningful change, by starting an“educational campaign starting in K-12 schools that reveals the strength and complexity of Asian Americans — just like any humans.” Dhingra continues, “At the heart of anti-Asian American racism is the assumption that we are foreign and “other,” rather than “our fellow Americans,” to use President Joe Biden’s language. This is why Asian Americans face constant questions about where we are from, get complimented for speaking English, and presented with unsolicited details about people’s trips to Asia.”
Right now, federal initiatives are not addressing this crucial misconception. We can see efforts like the Department of Justice trying to combat hate crimes against Asian Americans, along with two congresswomen introducing a new bill to speed up the reviews of hate crimes. However, Dhingra states that these efforts are akin to chasing the wind. The supporters are focusing on facing the crimes after they are committed. To even prevent the crimes from happening in the first place, education is the most effective method. Most Americans are taught little or even nothing about Asian Americans, a diverse, fast growing minority group in the country. So many Asian Americans inhabit the fifty states, and yet, children are taught that Chinese immigrants were brought in the 19th century and Japanese Americans were forced into concentration camps in WW11.
Education of the Asian Americans should be taken seriously, not just offering resources during May, Asian American Heritage Month. Curriculums that urge to include Asian American history in schools are much needed. Teachers can include Asian American history as a part of American history, acknowledging both achievements and flaws. Teachers can also include Asian American activism in the education of the civil rights movement.
Students should understand how white supremacy works in delicate ways, including in school. When Asian Americans students excel over White students, they are often upbraided for studying too hard, while when White students excel students of color, the reaction is the opposite.
Asian American history is not a simple single story to tell, this education needs much more attention and it may be the most effective method to fight against anti-Asian hate.