By Gilda Balan, Correspondent
Many incidents evoke fear in the Asian and Asian-American community, but such incidents often go unreported because they do not meet the legal hate crime criteria.
This is one of the conclusions of a recently released report from the US Commission on Civil Rights that studied the federal response to anti-Asian racism.
A review of the report written by Michelle De Pacina came out in the online site Nextshark late last month.
The report, titled “The Federal Response to Anti-Asian Racism in the United States” assessed the increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the country from 2019 to 2021, and evaluated that federal government’s role in addressing and enforcing hate crime laws.
De Pacina said the report focused on three main areas, namely:
- National trends in hate incidents against Asian communities;
- The practices of local and state law enforcement in preventing and reporting hate crimes, and;
- Federal efforts to encourage reporting and enforce hate crime prevention.
Earlier this year, the Commission conducted a public briefing where experts and impacted individuals provided input. The briefing was part of the study and was the first of its kind since 2019, and was bipartisan in nature.
The Commission cited other sources, such as the Stop Asian Hate reporting center, which documented 10,905 reported hate incidents targeting individuals of Asian descent for the period March 20, 2020 to December 31, 2021.
As is now widely known, the government and media’s use of alternative names for the coronavirus such as “kung flu” and “Chinese virus” contributed to the negative perception of Asians.
“This resulted in stereotypes, racism and xenophobia directed towards Chinese people or those perceived as Chinese,” stated De Pacina. The latter included such Asians as Filipinos, Koreans, Japanese, and Hmongs, among others.
It was Commission chairperson Rochelle Mercedes Garza who said that “language barriers” hindered the reporting of incidents. A number of the incidents are therefore not accounted in official statistics, she said.
Garza said the Commission proposes a “holistic strategy” to combat anti-Asian hate incidents. This should include improvements in data collection, legal enforcement, community support, and education initiatives.
The Commission wants prosecutors and law enforcers to “vigorously investigate and prosecute” hate crimes. It also wants first responders to be trained on identifying hate crimes.
The body also wants the language brier to be addressed in federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and victim services.
At the very least, Garza’s proposed holistic strategy is worth trying out to see if it can have a measurable effect in ending the scourge that is Asian hate.