The shameful and vicious attacks on Asians and Asian-Americans must stop. We are better than this.
What is it about our country in these tumultuous times that seems to make us crave violence based on a hatred of “the other”?
No sooner have we gotten the memory of January 6 in Washington, D.C. behind us — American turning on American, blue against red, left against right, sister against sister, our beautiful Capitol now wreathed, perhaps permanently, in barbed wire and riot fencing — then we turn on fellow Americans of Asian descent.
Have we lost our minds?
I am sickened and saddened — beyond what I can express — by the shooting spree in the Atlanta area this week in which six Asian women and two others were murdered. But this wasn’t an isolated incident. Data released by Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate (#StopAsianHate), which monitors anti-Asian racism, show approximately 3,800 anti-Asian hate incidents over the past 11 months, with women making up the majority (68%) of victims in those reports.
Particularly heinous are the random attacks on elderly Asian men and women — grandmothers and grandfathers for God’s sake — documented for the world to see in horrific videos and security footage showing random, innocent elders with grocery bags being pushed to the ground.
What is wrong with us?
A 61-year-old man of Filipino descent slashed on the New York subway.
A Vietnamese grandmother violently assaulted and robbed in San Jose.
A 91-year-old in Oakland, California’s Chinatown thrown to the ground!
It truly is both unconscionable and unthinkable in a country whose racial and ethnic diversity has for generations been a point of pride — not a reason for killing. It’s why I take great pride growing up in New York City — one of the greatest melting pots in the world.
Meanwhile, where there’s not violence and physical assault against Asian-Americans, there’s “verbal harassment, name-calling, shunning, and deliberate avoidance,” as The New York Times accurately points out.
It simply MUST STOP.
Predictably, the pundits and analysts, of which I suppose I am one, are busy opinionating and diagnosing:
— We need better policing.
— It started with Trump calling COVID “the China virus.”
Asian-Americans are too smart, too successful, a “model minority,” causing jealousy and resentment because they rightfully deserve the jobs they get?!! What?!! Academic excellence is among one of their most outstanding qualities. Take it from me. I went to Columbia University. I was the minority. “They” taught me in ways I couldn’t even begin to enumerate. “They” are my best friends, my most admired and visionary, thought-leaders. “They” live in my home. “They” are a piece of me!
I refuse to concede that our increasingly polarized and “tribal” society, filled with inter-racial hostility, is an inevitable byproduct of diversity. Why is it so hard to understand that it is our spectacular differences that have always made our country so great?
As I write this, I’m experiencing a horrid and vivid sense of déjà vu, harkening back to the piece I published on the hideous murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last May, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
If someone had told me 10 months ago that today I would be writing a similar piece on the slaughter of innocent Americans because their ancestors came to our shores from the Pacific, instead of from Europe, Latin America, or Africa, I wouldn’t have believed it.
But here we are.
I feel like I live in two worlds, as do many of us.
There’s the world I see splashed across the headlines and on cable news.
But then there’s the world I experience as the leader of a national nonprofit that serves 75,000 public schools and 40 million kids daily.
In the eyes, faces, and minds of the middle and high school kids I interact with in my organization’s programs, I virtually never see hate. I see pain, but I also see tolerance. I see interest in, concern for, and curiosity about, others.
And I see a uniquely youthful optimism and desire to embrace and understand the world, and all its peoples.
I cannot tell you how much hope this gives me for our nation and our world: there’s a lot of bad out there, but there’s a tremendous amount of good, too. And it starts with our nation’s youth.
Our job as adults is to show them what is possible and to admonish them when they don’t stand up for those we love and respect. And it shouldn’t take a crisis like what’s happening right now to know that that is the right thing to do!
I urge you to STAND UP to this wave of shameful behavior in our great country. Learn from one another, listen to one another, give counsel and support, and put your money where your mouth is. I’m ALL IN supporting #stopasianhate.
Will you join me?
Last night, my alma mater, Columbia University, posted this. It wasn’t a political statement. It was a recognition that my university and its greatness do not exist without the Asian and Asian-American community. “They” are a part of our glorious history, and a key to our equally glorious future. Here’s what Columbia said:
“We have seen a steady increase of acts of aggression and hateful rhetoric against members of the Asian community in the past year, rooted in false perceptions about the COVID-19 pandemic. It builds on a history in this country of xenophobia aimed at Asians and Asian-Americans. The rise of violence against Asians and Asian Americans underscores the continued need to stand together in the face of hatred. We will continue to denounce bias and bigotry in all forms and support each other, as a community.”
Let’s wake up together! Xenophobia in ALL its forms is a crisis of epic proportions. Our kids cannot grow up in a world where WE LET THIS HAPPEN!
Alexis Glick is Chief Executive Officer of GENYOUth, a nonprofit organization dedicated to nurturing child health and wellness through programs presented in partnership with the National Football League and the National Dairy Council. Glick also serves as a frequent contributor to CNN and many other global news networks, providing her perspective on domestic and international business topics of importance, the financial markets and CEO leadership trends. Glick is a frequent, strategic advisor to CEOs for some of the largest international, blue-chip and Fortune 500 companies on issues relating to media strategy, business development, investor relations and communications and advises professional athletes on social media, branding, and public speaking.