It goes without saying that the COVID-19 pandemic is a momentous obstacle that the world has struggled to overcome. Case numbers have fluctuated, unemployment rates have risen, and government regulations have changed repeatedly. Emotions such as frustration, greif, anger, and hopelessness have been painfully unavoidable. These emotions can be overwhelming, leading many to feel the need to place blame. However, there is no person or group to blame for the current state of the world. No crystal ball could have foreseen the magnitude of the situation currently at hand. However, there have been people (specifically in America) who have chosen to take their anger out on innocent citizens simply because of a basic correlation between those of Asian descent and the place where the pandemic originated.
Hate crimes against Asian Americans have increased at an alarming rate since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. There have been reports of Asian Americans, especially elders, being violently assaulted. An Asian American lawmaker in Kansas was physically threatened in a bar by another patron who made an accusation about the lawmaker being a carrier of COVID-19. In California, an 84 year old Thai man was fatally shoved to the ground by an individual while on a morning walk. There have also been several incidents of Asian American homeowners being targeted with racial slurs and having rocks thrown at their homes.
These attacks on fellow human beings are the result of unadulterated ignorance and will do nothing to resolve the COVID-19 pandemic, or improve anything in any way. Recent legislation appears to support the eradication of these senseless attacks.
The legislation has been widely supported by both Houses of Congress, the President, and Vice President. The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act was signed into law in May and has promised to make the reporting of hate crimes more accessible at state and local levels as well as provide reporting systems in multiple languages online. The bill also strives to expedite the review of COVID-19 related hate crimes. President Joe Biden recently described racism and hatred as “ugly poison that has long haunted and plagued our nation.” Kamala Harris, the first South Asian vice president, commented on how “hate can impede our progress” and “people uniting against hate can strengthen our country.”
While the bill appears to help increase the reporting of hate crimes related to COVID-19 and highlight them as an immediate issue, only time will tell what its true impact will be. The global pandemic is not yet over and there’s still so much to learn and understand before we can officially “close this chapter” of history. Once again, there are many emotions that coincide with the course of this global pandemic but simply being frustrated does not justify hate and bigotry. People must understand that hurting other people is not going to change the current state of the world in a positive way. However, having basic respect for each other as human beings is going to have a lasting impact that will hopefully, in time, diminish the hate in our world.