Teddy Palmore '23
In 2020, anti-Asian hate crimes increased by 150%. This deeply troubling surge came with the rise of anti-Chinese rhetoric from high-profile politicians stemming from COVID-19’s origins in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Former President Donald Trump, among others, shamelessly called the novel coronavirus everything ranging from “the China Virus” to “the Kung Flu.” The surge in hate crimes and hate speech against Asians comes as no surprise given the appalling and seemingly unchecked racism from some of the most powerful people in the country.
The oft-quoted aphorism “society prepares the crime, the criminal commits it” rings true for these hate crimes against Asian-Americans. Clearly our society is still at such an early stage of development that racist political rhetoric can cause such a colossal wave of senseless, hate-motivated violence. If society prepares the crime, the most important question we should ask ourselves is this: How do we UN-prepare the crime?
For students on the Close, the answer to this question feels difficult. We often feel powerless in the wake of seemingly distant racial violence. As students with little-to-no political power or influence, oftentimes we might feel that we can do nothing to change our society. However, the reality is that the Close is no exception when it comes to racism. Believing ourselves to be exempt from anti-racist reform only leads to the perpetuation of racism. So how, you might ask, can we on the Close help to stop the seemingly endless cycle of hate in the U.S.? In the absence of political power and money to donate to anti-racist causes, allyship is the best place to start.
A vital element of substantive allyship is self-education. Making an effort to learn about the racism our Asian classmates face can help us detect and prevent it. Learning about anti-Asian hate crimes and the harmful stereotypes that caused them also gives you the ability to thoughtfully discuss the issue with peers. Simply talking about racism can inform everyone involved in the conversation. Passivity will not help society progress past its deep-rooted and pervasive racist sentiments; active self-education is vital so that we can truly and effectively fight to reform societal norms.
Additionally, simply listen. Make sure that your Asian classmates know that they can depend on you for support as an ally. The more people who actively reach out to offer support, the closer our community moves towards becoming a totally accepting place for Asian students and faculty. Being there for your classmates also shows that you care about their well-being.
Complacency does not combat racism. To stop Asian hate, it is everyone’s duty to be an active ally. In order to help as an individual, each person must adopt a mindset of allyship and activism. Thinking with an open mind and listening with open ears are the first steps to ending the environment of racism in America and on the Close. I leave you with a quote from the great Maya Angelou: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”