The ‘invisible’ targets of hatred and hardship: Lower-income Asian Americans the focus of new COVID-19 study
Boston Globe Kay Lazar April 20, 2022
“Those in Chinatown or the working communities in Malden and Quincy are often invisible,” said Carolyn Wong, a political scientist at the Institute for Asian American Studies at UMass.
Wong said she embarked on research to help widen the public’s perception of Asian Americans, who are often stalked by a “model minority myth.”
“The impression that policy makers and a lot of the public have is just looking at the better off [Asian Americans],” Wong said.
“The movies, TV, a lot of media images, or ideas people have about how well off Asians are, come from the successful scientists and medical folks, and those are the ones who are more prominent in the public’s mind,” she said.
Wong and her UMass coauthor, Ziting Kuang, surveyed 192 mostly low- and middle-income Asian Americans in 2020 and early 2021 in Greater Boston and found that roughly 75 percent reported working jobs that placed them at higher risk for COVID, and about 40 percent reported feeling very or extremely worried about being able to pay their rent or mortgage.
A third said they were very or extremely afraid they would run out of food because of a lack of money.
Income inequality, the report found, is the greatest among Asian Americans, displacing Black people as the most economically divided racial or ethnic group in the country.
The large gap in experiences the UMass researchers found between wealthy and low-income Asian Americans mirrors the findings of a 2018 Pew Research Center report that found income inequality rising most rapidly among that group. It found that income distribution among Asian Americans transformed from being one of the most equal to being the most unequal among the United States’ major racial and ethnic groups.
Racially motivated violence looks like the mass shootings that killed Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Chung Park, Hyun Grant and Suncha Kim in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. Racially motivated violence also looks like suicide, which is defined as a deliberate act of self-directed violence in order to cause injury to oneself that results in death.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. When broken down by race, suicide is the first leading cause of death among Asian American young adults age 15-24. This is true of no other racial group in this age range in America.
AB 1400 calls for the implementation of policies to ensure that all residents of this state have access to medically appropriate, coordinated mental health services.
This bill is also historic, in that it directly addresses the need for multilingual and culturally-appropriate health services. These are of particular concern for Asian American communities, which are nearly 60% immigrant in demographic composition.
Through direct interaction with local seniors, small businesses, workers, street vendors, housed and un-housed neighbors, the NSC street-walk teams hold conversations about their efforts to combat Anti-Asian Violence. NSC also engages in mutual aid, distributing safety supplies (whistles, personal alarms, pepper spray) and personal health items (personal hygiene items, alcohol wipes, masks, socks, etc).
PANA members working on the NSC effort also try to connect the work to the larger battles for healthcare, quality housing, social services and the need to build solidarity between various social movements.
NSC recently launched a new website to compliment their ongoing presence on Instagram. NSC is also looking for a non-profit fiscal sponsor so as to pursue financial support for their work and restocking supplies.
Please visit and share the new NSC webpage and follow NSC on Instagram. Better yet, join NSC!
Biden may reject the hateful language of “China virus,” but he is extending the “tough on China” policy, which was the overall framework for so many of Trump’s racist tweets and remarks. This bodes poorly both for US-China relations and for Asian Americans, whose treatment has always been connected to Americans’ perceptions of the region.
PANA expects that anti-Asian racism and violence will continue to be supported by anti-China rhetoric coming out of the Biden Administration, including continued increase in propaganda to justify U.S. military provocation in the Asia/Pacific region, either directly or via proxy (e.g. Japan, Duterte).
September, 2021: The staff, workers, customers and neighbors of Wi Spa have been subjected to racist violence and terror by far right extremists over the past few months. It is time the Asian communities recognized and supported Wi Spa.
“When they (Proud Boys) come to protest, the police shut down this place for over 3 hours. We cannot make money, customers afraid and cannot go in and out and people don’t want to come near. This is very bad for us and for business.”
About 30 members of the “Proud Boys”, an armed white supremacist paramilitary group have come to Westlake on the east edge of Koreatown twice to protest Wi Spa for serving transgender people.
They believe transgender people should not be served. A video was allegedly shot of a transgendered person displaying genitalia inside the spa during the summer. The video went viral on far right news stations and Fox Mews. Then L.A. transgender activists were targeted on social media. Then, the protests began.
When these people attack Wi Spa’s right to serve trans people with their threats of violence, dozens of workers and customers are stuck inside and terrified. For Manager Jonathan, a Korean American and the Korean workers and staff, it means loss of income and a bad reputation. The surrounding neighborhood is forced to avoid the area including a high school located just 1 block north of the spa. Two people were stabbed at one of the confrontations and one pro-Wi Spa supporter was shot by the LAPD with rubber bullets.
The media has portrayed the Wi Spa incidents and violence as a protest by far right extremists against Wi Spa for allowing a transgender customer into the spa.
Although the intent of the Proud Boys is to express their homophobia and hatred for the LGBTQ community, their actions are anti-Asian racist in nature regardless of intent due to the terror and damage to Korean workers and it’s owners and customers.
The far right extremist Proud Boys must be condemned for both their virulent anti-trans homophobic actions and their anti-Asian racism stepping on the rights and dignity of the Korean business as they “protest’ LGBTQ customers
Extremists like the proud Boys now have the arrogance and audacity to organize terror demonstrations into L.A.’s majority people-of-color neighborhoods.
“We are only following the law. The law says we cannot discriminate against transgender people. What is wrong with that?”
System changers, progressives and reformers must work with and unite the broad masses of working class folks, small business and urban professionals especially in our POC communities against the far right. At the same time we must continue struggling with liberals over economic and foreign policy issues influenced by the republicans and win them over to the most progressive stances at the moment.
We urge community organizations to educate our communities about these dangers in our neighborhood and the threat to our country.
We urge community groups to take strong public stands against these fascists as the first step to prevent future attacks. (Currently, PANA and Neighborhood Safety Companions members are collecting statements to gather together and publish online and in other venues.)
We urge community groups to join us at the next Proud Boy protest into Koreatown to sent a message, they are not welcome.
We urge Neighborhood Councils in Koreatown, Westlake and surrounding neighborhoods to condemn the Proud Boy fascists.
The LAPD must enforce the law and arrest these fascist for violent crimes, not assist them by arresting mostly counter protesters.
Neighborhood Safety Companions, KoreatownProgressive Asian Network for Action
Korean Resource Center (KRC)
No Harm Koreatown LA
Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance (APALA)
J-town Action and Solidarity (JAS)
Save Our Seniors Network (SOSN)
Please contact PANA at [email protected] to endorse this position in support of Wi Spa and against fascist violence against transgender people.
June 23 2021- A Wi Spa customer, “Cubana Angel” made a video of herself complaining that a trans woman customer with male genitalia was in the women’s section. The video went viral.
The video is portrayed as a negative example and condemns Wi Spa. The spa asserts it is simply obeying CA Civil Code 51B which forbids discrimination against transgender customers. Moreover, records at Wi Spa do not show any transgender customers coming to the spa on June 23 for appointments.
Right wing talk shows like Tucker Carlson and fascist websites prop up the story and agitate reactionary responses.
July 3 2021- First “protest” by Proud Boys. Results in violent confrontations between the groups.
July 17- Results in 40 arrests mostly counter protesters who oppose the Proud Boys. Violence breaks out after a Proud Boy stabs a demonstrator and an LAPD cop shoots a counter protester at point blank range after she plead not to shoot.
July 31, 2021- The Proud Boys did not show up to this protest. However the LAPD made one arrest of a counter protester for “resisting arrest.”
Ahead of the 2022 midterms, the POLITICO/Morning Consult poll found that Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders are significantly more likely to be mobilized by a shared fear of violence and discrimination than before the pandemic.
From Politico.com, by Rishika Dugyala and Beatrice Jin | 10/3/2021
In this article, the authors discuss how the rise in violence directed towards Asians in the U.S. and around the world has led to many turning towards multi-Asian unity as a strategic political stance.
According to a recent Politico/Morning Consult poll, there has been a significant increase in the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders that now identify with the broader “Asian/Pacific Islander American” or “Asian American/Pacific Islander” label and not only their individual nationality alone.
In PANA’s analysis of this development, while defeated President Donald Trump was the leading promoter of racist anti-Asian scapegoating (calling COVID-19 the “Kung Flu Virus”), anti-Asian rhetoric has also been spread by the likes of Democratic Party officials such as Joe Biden (China bashing and warmongering) and CA Governor Gavin Newsom (blaming Vietnamese Nail Salons for the spread of COVID-19). Due to Trump and the ground-level MAGA forces high profile and the less antagonistic and diverse base of the Democratic Party, however, the Asian/Pacific Islander demographic will naturally skew anti-Republican.
Available information suggests the perpetrators of anti-Asian hate incidents were predominantly male and disproportionately white. Among politicians who made stigmatizing statements and supported discriminatory policies and proposals, the primary perpetrators were white, male and affiliated with the Republican Party.
Asian American Studies and history professor at Columbia University
Asiatic exclusion and Jim Crow segregation were two modes of racial management necessary for white supremacy after the Civil War, when the West and the South were being integrated into a national economy based on corporate capital and a polity made up of white male voters. These policies relied on euphemisms and legal fictions—“aliens ineligible to citizenship” and “separate but equal”—to work around the Fourteenth Amendment’s promise of equal protection and due process for all. Indeed, in the late 19th century, the Supreme Court would interpret the Fourteenth Amendment to favor the rights of capital, and not those of formerly enslaved people or Asian immigrants.
Seventy eight years ago today — also a Sunday — James Hatsuaki Wakasa was shot to death at 7:30 p.m. at Topaz, Utah, by a guard tower sentry. After we posted a story about the killing, titled “The Demolished Monument,” we received a letter from an 86-year-old Ohio reader who was a child at Topaz at the time. He shared some memories that have haunted him for years.
At the former Topaz concentration camp in Utah, there’s only dry grass where a concrete monument once stood, to mark where an innocent man was killed by a guard tower sentry. The man was walking his dog after dinner. HIs name was James Hatsuaki Wakasa.
Last month’s deadly shooting in the US city of Atlanta has put the spotlight on anti-Asian hate crimes across the country. Six Asian American women were among the eight victims. Since the start of the pandemic, these incidents have been on the rise and in some cases, their frequency has increased by as much as 100 percent. The anti-China rhetoric of former US president Donald Trump has played a part. Amid an indifferent response from authorities, some activists are taking matters into their own hands. Our California correspondents Valérie Defert, Pierrick Leurent and Ryan Thompson report.
Programme prepared by Patrick Lovett and Camille Pauvarel.
Before the white residents of Antioch burned down Chinatown in 1876, they banned Chinese people from walking the city streets after sunset.
In order to get from their jobs to their homes each evening, the Chinese residents built a series of tunnels connecting the business district to where I Street met the waterfront. There, a small Chinatown and a cluster of houseboats made up the immigrant settlement. If they ever felt safe there, it was fleeting. Above the tunnels and outside their doors, the threat of violence was simmering.