Words and actions can hurt, but they can also heal.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise. A 2020 study of Asian American hate crimes reported to police in 16 of the country’s largest cities found a 150% increase from 2019. During the same period, overall hate crime dropped by 7%.
Stop AAPI Hate reports almost 3,800 incidents between March 2020—when the organization launched—and February 2021. Physical assaults are the tip of the iceberg, comprising 11% of reports. In urban centers around the country, harassment happens on public transportation, at work, in businesses and outside homes.
Anti-Asian hate: a national and local concern.
In March 2021, a shooter killed 8 people in Georgia, 6 of whom were of Asian descent. These killings devastated the country and shook the Asian American community. These shootings came after months of violent attacks on Asians and Asian Americans.
Some attacks happened close to home. Late in 2020, a 14-year-old boy attacked an elderly Asian couple walking behind a Tacoma grocery store. While the boy repeatedly punched the man, another teen filmed the assault.
In another Tacoma incident, 2 young men attacked a woman outside her home. The aggressors threw a rock, which struck the women’s thigh. They displayed a sign with anti-Asian language.
Racism is a public health crisis.
In 2020, the Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health took bold action to address the legacy of racism. Board members unanimously passed a resolution that declares racism a public health crisis. Racism is interwoven with the social, economic, and environmental factors that are the major drivers of our health. But because race is a social construct, we have hope of reversing the cruel effects of racism. We can shift attitudes and behaviors and dismantle the institutions and systems that perpetuate racism.
Celebrate cultural diversity.
Tacoma and Pierce County have historical roles in anti-Asian racism. You can learn more about this legacy and how to create a better future at these memorials:
- The Tacoma Chinese Reconciliation Park tells of when Tacoma expelled its Chinese residents in 1885.
- The Japanese Language School Memorial marks where Tacoma processed the residents of Tacoma’s Nihonmachi (Japantown) while authorities forcibly removed and sent them to assembly centers and concentration camps in 1942.
- The Harmony sculpture at the Washington State Fairgrounds memorializes the Puyallup Assembly Center (Camp Harmony) where authorities in Tacoma detained Japanese from Seattle then sent them to concentration camps in 1942.
Words and actions can hurt, but they can also heal. Check on your Asian American neighbors and friends. Listen to their concerns. Examine your own language and biases. Stand with them against any form of violence or aggression. Discuss steps to protect them and restore their sense of safety.
At Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, we remain dedicated to protect and improve the health of all people and places in Pierce County. That means:
- Stand with our communities to push for justice, healing, and a safe place to live.
- Partner with all our racial, ethnic, and other communities to honor their voices.
- Commit to becoming a multicultural and anti-racist organization.
Contact us at email@example.com.