(LEX 18) — Although authorities are still in the infancy of their investigation into a string of shootings in Atlanta that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, the violence has sent a jolt through Asian American communities across the country.
"This is a huge, huge concern," said Dr. Huajing Maske, the executive director of the University of Kentucky's China Initiative.
Dr. Maske, who recounted her own experiences with anti-Asian bias during an interview with LEX 18, said hate and ignorance can often manifest themselves in subtle ways.
"Microaggressions," she said. "Just small things that happen on a daily basis to me and all my friends."
For example, Dr. Maske said people she encounters will pepper her with questions on where she is "really from." But other incidents are far more overt. According to the group Stop AAPI Hate, its reporting center received 3,795 reports of hate incidents against Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021.
"At the heart of all this is the coronavirus pandemic," said Amber Duke, the deputy director of ACLU-Kentucky.
In fact, a recent study found that anti-Asian hate crimes in 16 of America's largest cities increased by 149% in 2020, according to an analysis of official preliminary police data by the Center for the Study of Hate & Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino.
"Unfortunately, because of a lot of misinformation and bias from elected leaders and others, folks have scapegoated the Asian American community around the coronavirus," said Duke.
Duke, who is Black, stressed the importance that everyone, especially people in marginalized groups, come together and stand up against the growing tide of hate.
"What folks in the AAPI community are facing is part of the same racist system that Black Americans are confronted with in this country," she said.