Why The Hashtag #StopAsianHate Is Problematic

With 206,000 followers on Instagram, the @stopaapihate Instagram page launched on October 16, 2020 with intentions to post about “the latest reports, press releases and updates on national anti-AAPI hate incidents and state of affairs”.

This page was started by A3PCON, a non-profit organization focused on the “rights and needs” of the AAPI community, the Chinese Affirmative Action group based in San Francisco, CA, and San Francisco University’s Asian American Studies department.

There are over 456,000 posts tagged with #StopAsianHate on Instagram today.

Since October 2020, the Stop AAPI Hate page has posted infographics on money allocated by lawmakers to track hate crimes against Asians ($1.4 million to the UCLA Asian American Studies Center), general information regarding Asian Hate and how to combat it, and other celebratory posts such as Google’s front page illustration of Asian innovator Wu Lien Teh and call to action to #StopAsianHate.

What may have started as genuine concern for the AAPI community and a desire to create action-oriented goals, the Stop Asian Hate “movement”, if that’s what we’re calling it, has actually turned into a huge distraction from the root of the problem, and a disturbingly large marketing ploy that has fueled social media posts and “solidarity” in the form of online advertising by the same companies that supported BLM with cringe-worthy rhetoric.

What we have been seeing for the past few months, are mainly statistics on the exorbitant increase of Asian hate crimes across the country, coupled by news coverage of horrific crimes against and murders of innocent people.

This formulaic way of attention-grabbing by reporting on the percentage increase of Asian hate crimes, along with criminal news coverage is molding a new narrative of victimizing Asian people across the country in the guise of what I like to call “fake White American concern” aka Model Minority perpetuation.

Regardless, the unveiled xenophobia in the United States that came as a result of politicians publicly pointing all fingers at China as the perpetrator of Covid-19, is definitely a real thing.

Day-to-day stories of non-Asian people violating Asians in supermarkets, on sidewalks, and at work, have gallivanted Asians to spread and support the simplistic, and seemingly applicable term “Stop Asian Hate”.

The problem is, we’re actually not dealing with Asian Hate here.

We’re dealing with centuries of systemic hegemony and an American caste system that has been so successfully incorporated into this country’s bloodline, that Nazi regimes used America as a blueprint for their strategies.

I’ve spoken to many friends and colleagues about the term “Stop Asian Hate”, and we collectively wince at the sound of it. Its denotation of Asian Hate being the backbone of why we’re treated as Other, is not only confusing, but also extremely diminishes our experiences with racism in the form of microaggressions, and the shiny marketing scheme that we've all come to know as "The American Dream".

To double down on my previous statements, I am not dismissing the mortifying physical and verbal attacks that have happened and are happening to Asians today. My family members, many friends, and I have been harassed within the past year due to the xenophobic rhetoric against China and Covid-19.

But the truth is, I’ve been harassed and at the receiving end of xenophobia and orientalism my entire life as an Asian woman. This treatment hasn’t just begun for me in 2020 or 2021. The perpetrators have been classmates, teachers, strangers on the street, salesmen at car dealerships, people I’ve dated, and furthermore institutions such as schools I’ve attended and corporations that I’ve worked at.

Maybe the three words “Stop Asian Hate” sounded like the most palpable slogan to its founders and proponents. 

Unfortunately, this hashtag has completely lost the plot by focusing on hate crime reporting. Because actually, why are we leaning on a racist justice system and the murderous police force to collect data and react?

In a recent article written by Kimmy Yam for NBC News, over 85 Asian American, LGBTQ groups took a stance against the anti-Asian hate crimes bill supported by Joe Biden.

Kimmy writes, “But the groups argue that the legislation fails to provide resources to address the causes of anti-Asian bias and, in turn, ignores police violence against Black and brown communities.”

Her article paints a clearer picture, which is reality. The police does nothing to prevent these reported hate crimes. Our country does nothing to prevent them either. Instead, the United States perpetuates violence by instilling a system of socioeconomic disparity that ultimately causes crime, not the reverse.

Furthermore, crime victims’ family members, rather than any local governments or policemen, are typically the folks who end up crowdfunding in order to pay for medical bills, damaged property, and also funeral proceedings.

The perverse nature of the model minority myth frames Asians as “law-abiding”, thus any implication of legal criminalization skews more towards policing Black and Brown people rather than white or Asian. So the anti-Asian hate crimes bill really becomes a tool to continue America’s mass incarceration.

I urge everybody to rethink the "Stop Asian Hate" campaign, and start talking about reality instead. Reporting hate crimes can help build a statistical case as to why the government should care about Asians. However, we need to change the narrative and place true accountability onto our government, local officials, the police, individuals, and organizations that can provide financial access and resources to communities vulnerable to crime, not just Asian communities.

We must continue to advocate for each other's minority groups to bridge the extremely large gap that currently exists.

Written by Lauryn Lee