Hate crimes against Asians spiked higher last year following the pandemic. In response, many people protested for Asian and American equality. This protest was the first of many and has brought about a new phase in racial equality.
There’s a prevalent misconception that Asians are typically pacifists, but with the increasing number of racial hate crimes, this minority is taking action to be safe in various ways.
Stop Asian Hate
One way they are combating hate is through food. Asians and Asian Americans have come together in kitchens to dish out some savory dishes for salty haters.
“Where are you from?”
In the 16th century, the first Asians to arrive on American soil were from Southeast Asia. According to librarian Eloisa Gomez Borah, Luzon Islanders from the Philippines first arrived in Californian coasts. They were part of the crew of the voyage headed by Pedro de Unamuno. The voyage was originally headed by Francisco Gali three years prior. These Luzon Islanders would later settle in Louisiana.
The major surge of Asian immigration happened in the 1830s. Plantations in Hawaii needed contractual workers and most of the labor force came from Japan, China, and Russia, to name a few. The cheap labor sourced from these countries solved problems related to the currently existing labor force at the time.
It wasn’t only the plantations that caused the increase for the demand of cheap labor. The Gold Rush in California and the Transcontinental Railroad required laborers as an alternative to slavery. The Asians were the solutions for the issue surrounding slavery towards black people.
There was also a secondary attempt to quell the protests against unfair labor practices by Chinese immigrants. The US started importing cheap labor from South Asia and and Japan. These two groups would later become part of the Asian American population.
How many Asians and Asian Americans Are There?
There is an estimated 21 million Asians living in the United States. The population of Asians and Asian Americans are largely concentrated on the West Coast. The demographics include Chinese, Filipinos, and the least being Japanese. There are also Indians and Vietnamese. This statistics has changed since 2010.
Hawaii has the largest percentage of Asian Americans, with over 58 percent of the total population.
History of Asian (Chinese) Hate Crimes
With the influx of cheap labor from China and other Asian countries, the available jobs for whites gradually decreased. The Rock Springs Massacre involved miners killing 30 Chinese laborers due to loss of jobs. Five years after the incident, the Congress passed a law that would restrict Asian women from entering the United States.
The people at that time believed Asian women would involve themselves in the business of prostitution. The contempt towards the Chinese would soon find itself “legalized”. To prevent the supposed prostitution and undocumented immigration, the Chinese Exclusion act was passed. This also prevented the Chinese from achieving US citizenship.
There were attemps to better the situation for the Chinese. The Geary Act, an amended Chinese Exclusion Act, required immigrants to carry identification. Chinese laborers who failed to register and show a certification either were deported or subjected to one year of labor. Only three percent of the total Chinese immigrants were registered.
This percentage were subject for deportation, however, the Congress only set aside a set amount of money. Educated and English-speaking Chinese from New York pointed out that there were no provisions regarding the fiscals for deportation. These were also backed by New York lawyers. Amendments were done to provide the Chinese additional time to prepare, although additional requirements were in place (i.e. photographs).
The Chinese had support from their government during this time, threatening to sever economic ties with the US, had the Geary Act not been amended.
Nobody would expect the situation to become bleak in the 21st century. COVID-related hate crimes would increase, with reports from New York increasing to over 200 percent. New York has the largest concentration of Chinese, especially new immigrants. The increased reports for anti-asian hate crimes may be due to the economic and political stature, including the vast population of Chinese, of the people living in New York.
The combined reports of hate crimes and hate incidents towards Asians are compiled by Stop AAPI Hate. The California-based organization has constantly received reports since the start of the quarantine to fight the ongoing pandemic. Close to 4000 reports were made from the months of March 2020 to 2021. Most of these reports involve hate speech.
Chefs to the Rescue
The case of Vincent Chin brought strong attention to the status of Asian and Asian American rights in the US. As part of its efforts to fight Asian hate crimes, Chefs Stoping AAPI Hate is working with chefs and culinary experts to help raise funds. The event held by the organization aims to raise awareness and fund local AAPI organizations. The organization is founded by Kevin Tien and Tim Ma.
Kevin Tien worked over ten years as a chef in Tsunami, a local Louisiana restaurant. Food and Wine also included hime as one of the “Best New Chefs” in 2018. Kevin Tien’s menu in Himitsu is heavily inspired by Japanese cuisine. Tim Ma, chef at Lucky Danger, specializes in Chinese takeout and takes inspiration from his childhood for his culinary creations.
The duo organized a dinner series recently, working with Open Table in San Francisco last May 4. Their organization also partnered with American University’s The Antiracist Research and Policy Center to disseminate information during the dinner series.
The initiative to form the organization was more of a “responsibility”, according to Tim Ma. He also says that cooking is one of the best ways to show support to the fight against AAPI hate crimes.
Other chefs who will also be joining the dinner “crusade” include Andrew Hori. Andrew Hori helped plan and organize the dinner series in the Bay Area. Sales from takeouts will be used to fund local AAPI organizations