Even San Francisco’s Chinatown not a safe haven against Asian hate
By Gilda P. Balan, Correspondent
SAN FRANCISCO – A recent syndicated story from ABC News Internet Ventures entitled ‘Anti-Asian racism still haunts San Francisco community’ relates the story of the Jeung family.
Back in the late 1800s, the Jeungs were forced out of their Monterey, California home.
According to Stop AAPI Hate group co-founder Russel Jeung, “When the townspeople wanted the Chinese out, the landlord evicted them. When the Chinese wouldn’t leave, a fire burned down the entire village.”
He told ABC News that his great grandparents “saw their entire life’s work burned down.”
His forefathers eventually made their way to San Francisco’s Chinatown, considered as one of the biggest Chinese community in the world. Only the Chinatown in Binondo, in the Philippines’ capital city of Manila is older and bigger.
Jeung said their great grandparents’ new home was the “only place of safety against that racism” more than a century ago.
And so it was for many decades. San Francisco’s Chinatown soon became a thriving community as it was a peaceful place where not only Chinese or Chinese-Americans found sanctuary. Other Asians and Asian Americans, Filipinos and FilAms included, would live and work there without fear of being harassed for their being “different.”
The COVID-19 pandemic changed all that. The historic Chinatown became the center of anti-Asian racism.
Officials of the great Northern California city received 60 reports of hate crimes against AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders, which includes FilAms) people in 2021. This was more than a 500 percent increase compared to the nine incidents reported the year before.
Jeung’s group recorded some 11,500 hate incidents against the AAPI community nationwide between March 2020 and end-March 2022.
ABC News reported that the figure was much higher than the number of reported hate crimes during the same two-year period. Worse, advocates say that the actual figure could be substantially higher due to unreported cases.
Elderly Asian Americans especially are known to keep lesser incidents to themselves, sometimes due to the language barrier. When the hate crimes are in the form of spoken words and not physical violence, they are likely to let such incidents pass.
Whatever the numbers, the hate crimes against Asian Americans continue. While reports indicate that the numbers have dropped nationwide, “the trauma and reality of this hate remains,” said the report.
At least California has taken numerous steps to prevent more cases of Asian hate, befitting the state’s status as home to the largest numbers of immigrants and citizens of Asian descent.
Still, a single hate crime against any Asian or Asian American can be considered as one case too many.