Today’s Horrific Outrageous Rise in Attacks on Asians Within the US—and the History Behind This



A Chinese kid comes home crying after a classmate pushes her to the ground and yells, “Go back to China, you kung flu virus.” Her mom dries her tears and says, “Remember, sticks and stones may break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”

But this is AmeriKKKa, where racism is deeply woven into everything—and where words do in fact not only hurt, but kill.

An 84-year-old Thai immigrant in San Francisco died after being violently shoved to the ground. An 89-year-old Chinese woman was slapped and set on fire in Brooklyn. A 75-year-old Asian man died after being violently shoved to the ground during a robbery in Oakland. In Georgia a man confronted an Asian woman outside a store saying, ‘F**king lying b*tch Who the f**k are you... You’re spreading this shit. F**king nasty dirty conspiracy Chinese! You’re why we gotta wear masks, you disease-spreading, b!tch. F**k your people!”1

Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, there’s been a dramatic rise in anti-Asian attacks. There have been at least 3,800 reported incidents—a 150 percent increase from the year before, with 40 percent of the victims Chinese and 60 percent women.2 And since the start of the pandemic anti-Asian attacks have really been on the rise in many other countries around the world.3

On March 16, Robert Long, a 21-year-old white guy in Atlanta, drove to three different Asian-owned spas and killed eight people—six of them Asian women.

And there are thousands more incidents of anti-Asian verbal abuse, shunning, discrimination, physical attacks and vandalism.

There’s a Whole History Here...

White supremacy and racism is built into the bloodstream of this country and as part of this, there’s a whole history of anti-Chinese, anti-Asian xenophobic thinking, and racist attacks.4

In the 1860s American companies went to China and recruited Chinese men who were then brought to the U.S. and brutally exploited building the transcontinental railroad. Tens of thousands were packed like cattle into squalid hulls of ships, many dying on the voyage across the Pacific Ocean. They came to the “Gold Mountain” with dreams of making money and returning to their villages. Instead, they were labeled “the yellow peril” and faced savage discrimination, repression, and racist pogroms. In 1871, a white mob of 500 tortured and murdered 17-20 Chinese in downtown Los Angeles. In 1885, white vigilantes massacred 28 Chinese miners in Rock Springs, Wyoming. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prevented Chinese from immigrating and remained in effect until 1943. Many laws specifically discriminated against Chinese in schools, housing, and jobs.

During World War 2, 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry were rounded up and put in concentration camps—by the “enlightened liberal” president, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And over the decades there have been many instances of anti-Asian crimes.

Historically the U.S. has fanned racism and xenophobia (hatred of foreigners), spreading American chauvinism and divisions among the people. The U.S. has waged many unjust wars against Asian countries, including Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. And each time, these wars have been accompanied by the most obscene racist dehumanization of the peoples of those countries. The Vietnamese were called “gooks.” Efforts to prevent Chinese immigration and the fight against Japan in World War 2 came with cartoons of slanty-eyed, buck-toothed, yellow people. And this in turn, fanned racism against Asian people living the United States. And there was the literal “rape and plunder” of these countries. Brothels went up around U.S. Army bases and women were raped by U.S. soldiers. Asian women were debased and depicted as “exotic” sexual toys.

In recent years, there has also been the targeting of people from the Middle East and South Asia as possible “terrorists,” leading to roundups in these communities, imprisonment without trial, deportations, pervasive government surveillance, use of informers and provocateurs, and more. And another part of this whole picture is the way various ruling class political forces have promoted anti-Asian racism among industrial workers—telling them that their jobs have been “stolen” by Asian workers who are being super-exploited abroad in assembly line sweatshops. And this too reverberates, resulting in anti-Asian attacks in the United States.

In 1982, two days before his wedding, Chinese-American Vincent Chin was beaten to death by two white men who held Chin responsible for auto workers losing their jobs because of the Japanese auto industry. In 1987, police in Sonoma County, California, fatally shot Kwan Chung Kao. The cops claim Kao, who was drunk and waving a broomstick, was shot because they “thought he was a martial arts expert.” No charges were brought against the pigs. In 1996, 24-year-old Vietnamese-American Thien Minh Ly was stabbed to death by what police described as two “white supremacist types.” Investigators say one suspect bragged to a friend, “Oh, I killed a Jap a while ago.”5

Now with the COVID-19 crisis, anti-Asian sentiment has taken on a whole new life—fanned by the same white supremacists that consider Confederate flag wavers “very fine people.” Trump’s rants about the “Chinese Virus,” the “Kung Flu,” and the “China Plague” have been echoed by his supporters, including in the government, and by right-wing media like Fox News. Who can doubt the link between the racist shit spewing from Trump’s lips and the anti-Asian attackers who shout, “go back to China,” and “dirty Chinese”? One Asian woman was sprayed with Lysol by someone who yelled, “You’re the infection. Go Home!”

The ugly, racist thinking that’s led to the brutal treatment of Asian people, as well as Black people and other people of color, is certainly alive and well—among the rulers of this country and throughout society.

At a March 18 House of Representatives hearing on anti-Asian discrimination, Republican Chip Roy from Texas decried the hearing as “policing free speech,” and then claimed he was “in favor of justice” by outright referring to lynching—saying, “We believe in justice. There’s old sayings in Texas about find all the rope in Texas and get a tall oak tree.”

Incredibly ugly, profoundly disgusting, and outrageously racist, yes. And American as apple pie!


1. Stop AAPI Hate—Georgia Report, 3.20.20 - 10.28.20 [back]

2. Statistics from Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition of community organizers and academics formed in March 2020 which reports on instances of racism and discrimination against Asian Americans. This number only represents reported incidents and there are undoubtedly many more. [back]

3. “Atlanta spa attacks shine a light on anti-Asian hate crimes around the world,” Christopher Johnson and Tara John, CNN, March 21, 2021 [back]

4. See American Crime: “Case #67: 1848-1900: Brutal Exploitation and Ruthless Oppression of Chinese Immigrants” and “Case #89: 120,000 People of Japanese Descent Put in U.S. Concentration Camps During World War 2,” . [back]

5. “The New Anti-Asian Hysteria, Made in the U.S.A.,” July 1, 2001, [back]

Corpses of victims of the largest mass lynching in U.S. history, when a white mob of 500 tortured and murdered 17-20 Chinese in downtown Los Angeles, 1871.

Work on the last mile of the Pacific Railroad. Photo: Library of Congress.

Japanese internment, Byron, California: Farm families of Japanese ancestry board buses for Turlock Assembly Center, 1942. Photo: Dorothea Lange



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