Members of the Philippine United Student Organization (PUSO) at SBU share their thoughts on the recent surge of anti-Asian hate crimes.
To the Stony Brook Community,
Respect. A concept that has been degraded in its meaning over time. An idea that we and all those that came before us expected from the community. A lesson that taught us to love those around us, no matter who they are, where they come from and what they look like. We expected respect, but instead received hate.
Our looks, our food, our way of life — while seemingly different at the core, lies the same living, breathing human beings who want nothing but a better life for themselves and their families.
Like anyone else, we came in search of opportunity, safety and freedom. We wanted to begin anew in a place which we admired to the point that some of us refer to it as a “beautiful country.”
However, since the very day our ancestors took their first steps into this “beautiful country,” we have been victims of “othering” — being treated as if we were aliens and that we will never belong.
These instances of “othering” took various forms — from microaggressions and racial slurs, to lack of representation in media and broadcasts, to deliberate unprompted fatal attacks on our friends and families. We, alongside many other minority ethnic groups, were targets of xenophobia and the bystander effect. Day after day, we have been pushed aside and expected to accept what was given to us.
According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, anti-Asian American hate crimes reported to police rose 149% between 2019 and 2020. Stop AAPI Hate received reports of nearly 3,800 hate incidents during the first year of the pandemic. Experts even say that these crimes are underreported for a variety of reasons.
We watched as our community was slowly being degraded while many days were spent fearing for our lives, to wonder when we would be next to not return home safely. Yet, we were silenced and gaslit as our culture soon became “trendy” and we were looked at as a “Model Minority.”
Many news outlets downplayed the struggles that we have faced by focusing on perpetrators rather than the victims. The hate crimes against us were not addressed for what they were by those outside of our community. It was made to seem that our struggles were not worth fighting for; therefore, we remained silent.
The reasons for these actions differ from each incident, but the effects are clear — Asians are being marginalized and we feel as if there is nothing we can do. But why has it come to this point?
It has been decades since our ancestors first arrived in this country, but why does it feel as if time has been standing still? Why have we accepted the idea of marginalization and discrimination against minority groups as something normal? At what point does this stop, and we are treated as humans?
The answer is now. This deliberate “othering” and hate against us has persisted for far too long. We can neither allow these acts of hate to affect our community any longer, nor allow our community to be reduced to just a statistic, a number or a count. We must become a symbol of hope for our future generations and begin a true change in the way people treat each other — and in the way we treat each other.
We do not condone hate crimes, xenophobia, marginalization, racism or any acts of discrimination. We implore everyone — regardless of your actual or perceived identifying features — to educate yourself and loved ones on the recent and past hate crimes. We ask that we all use our voices to collectively fight against these horrific acts and finally spark a change in society. It is our duty, whether or not one is Asian-American, to end these hate crimes against our community.
Let us remember those who unwillingly became victims of these hate crimes and let them be our motivation to change society for the better:
Hyun Jung Grant
Soon Chung Park
Yik Oi Huang
Nhu “Annie” Ngoc Nguyen
Philippine United Student Organization (PUSO)