Violence Against Asian Americans Increased in 2020. So Why is Anti-Asian Racism Often Overlooked?

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People hold lights during a vigil organized by Nailing It For America for those who have died from Covid-19 and to "Stop Asian Hate" on March 4 in Fountain Valley, California. (PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

In 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center documented 2,808 hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, with 700 of those reports in the Bay Area. In Los Angeles, the police commission reported a 114% increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in 2020. The troubling rise in anti-Asian violence has taken many by surprise. But for those inside the Asian American community, the crimes feel both familiar and horribly inevitable following the rhetoric of the previous White House administration. Political and media underrepresentation — and misconceptions of Asian Americans as a monolithic group — obscure a history of violence against Asian American communities. We’ll discuss that history and the current community activism metabolizing this moment as well as what lies ahead.


Hua Hsu, staff writer, The New Yorker; associate professor of English and director of the American Studies program, Vassar College