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Surge of Attacks towards the Asian Community

Where does the hatred towards the Asian American-Pacific Islander (AAPI) community root from in America, and how has the COVID-19 pandemic raised the rate of AAPI hate crimes?

From the 16th century throughout the 19th century, the Manila Galleon Trade network thrived, connecting Asia, the Americas, and Europe. During the 16th century, many Filipinos immigrated to current day Mexico and the United States through the Manila Galleon Trade trading ships.

Manila Galleon Trade Route

While this migration is known as one of the first instances of East Asians in Northern America, documents show that there was already a pre-existing Filipino community in southern current-day United States (Louisiana) which grew throughout the 18th century, leading to many large-scale Filipino communities being influential parts of the US Independence War -- the Battle of New Orleans more specifically, fighting under Andrew Jackson, soon to be future president of the time.

Photograph taken during the "Gold Rush"

In the mid-19th century, around the late 1840s, gold was discovered, leading to the infamous “Gold Rush.” This brought many more East Asians -- mainly Chinese Natives -- to America with the hopes of “striking gold” and becoming wealthy. The influx of Asians immigrating led to the development and passing of the Foreign Miner Tax.

The Foreign Miner Tax was one of the first forms of discrimination acts taken against the Asian community. One of the main reasons historians believe this taxation was passed was because Asians were now seen as competition towards White Americans since they arrived en masse and were considerably inexpensive workers. This taxation was seen to be as a way to discourage Asian immigration, but instead impacted Hispanic/LatinX miners more than it did Asian miners, still seen as a giant threat to White miners. Therefore, due to the lack of decrease in Asian miners, anti-Asian legislations pushed to enact the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.

The Chinese Exclusion Act, passed in 1882, was the first time in American history where a single ethnic group was singled out of the general community and led to the eventual heavy restrictions on gaining US citizenship. This act prevented all Chinese migrants and their American-born children from gaining citizenship; it also created new difficult requirements for those who lived in the US already, and if a Chinese person wanted to return to the US after momentarily leaving, they needed to obtain new certificates. The Chinese Exclusion Act expired in 1892, but was reextended for another ten years by Congress through the Geary Act which required all Chinese residents to receive a certificate of residence or else deportation would be enacted.

Photograph of an 1892 Newspaper

Up until 1943, all exclusion acts were repealed, but a limit of 105 Chinese people per year being able to seek naturalization was still in place, leading to the Immigration Act of 1965 which allowed a larger number of legalizing immigrants.

The National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) used data between 1992-2014 to examine the nature behind Asian-dominated hate crimes across the United States. The NIBRS states that the Asian-American community has grown from 3.5 million in 1980 to 11.9 million in 2000 to 19.4 million in 2014, explaining then that the National Crime Victimization Survey (NCVS) stated that the crime rate taken against Asian-Americans rose from 8.2 to 16.2 per 1000 persons from 2015 to 2018. They then mention that Asian-Americans suffer from being:

4.0% of murder victims, 4.7% of rape victims, 11.6% of robbery victims, 5.2% of aggravated assault victims, and 10.3% of all grand larceny victims.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) also provided the statement that the number of hate crime incidents towards Asian-Americans had an annual rate 12% increase.

Since late 2019 and early 2020, the rate of Asian-American hate crimes has risen due to the COVID-19 pandemic which originated from China. The National Public Radio (NPR) reports that over 3,800 discrimination acts were reported such has harassment and physical/sexual assault. In mid-March of 2021, 8 people were the victims of a mass shooting, 6 being of Asian-descent, adding to the number of Asian-American attack percentages in the midst of COVID-19.

Illustration of AAPI & COVID-19 Treatment Gap

Despite the obvious trauma Asian-Americans have been struggling with since the development of COVID-19, the internet has not been making the situation any better. Past president, Donald J. Trump, tweeted repeatedly during his late presidency, using the label “Chinese Virus” whenever mentioning incidents related to COVID-19, leading to the increase of anti-Asian hashtags on Twitter.

Due to COVID-19 and the unprecedented racism towards Asian-Americans that has been steadily increasing since the mid-19th century, hate crimes towards the Asian American- Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has surged. Blatant racism has been normalized to the federal level since the Foreign Miner Tax of the 19th century, showing no mercy to the past immigrants and current day Asian-Americans who continue to suffer from harassment and violence.

One Screenshot of Trump's "Chinese Virus" Tweet

This needs to end now. The hatred for the AAPI community is unnecessary, especially violence that has arisen due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are human just like the rest of us and deserve our respect just like any other racial or ethnic group. Their community has been discriminated against since the 1800s due to white supremacy, due to jealousy, due to a need for dominance -- all things that have made not only the AAPI community suffer but many more non-white ethnic groups.

If you would like to be a part of an AAPI community, please consider researching the Stop Asian Hate and Stop AAPI movements or the Lincoln Asian Center. If you are an Asian American-Pacific Islander who has suffered from a racially-motivated hate crime, consider reporting your incident to not only your local authorities but also to the Stop Asian Hatred organization.


Stop Asian Hate:

Stop AAPI Hate:

Lincoln Asian Center - Asian Community & Cultural Center:

Stand Against Asian Hatred Report Page:


Works Cited:

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