Prejudice, discrimination, and violence against members of the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has existed ever since immigrants from China began to arrive in America in the 1850s.
The first anti-immigration law in our nation’s history, the Chinese Exclusion Act, specifically targeted Chinese immigrants in 1882 and was still the law of the land until 1943.
The wrongful detention of Japanese-Americans in camps during WWII has become well-known to every high school student of American history.
Locally, our newspapers through the years have reported on numerous incidents of hate in the Boston area, ranging from the graffiti and vandalism that plagued a popular Japanese restaurant in Winthrop Centre in the 1980s to the arson fires in Revere in the 1980s that culminated with the blaze in December, 1990, that drove more than 150 persons, mostly from the Revere Cambodian community, from their homes.
The tragic shooting late last week in Atlanta by 21 year-old Robert Aaron Long that targeted Asian-American employees in massage parlors is just the latest example of the growing trend of violence against Asian-Americans that was encouraged by the rhetoric of certain public figures who fed the flames of racial animosity with terms such as the “China virus” and “the kung-flu” to describe the COVID-19 pandemic.
The targeting of members of the AAPI community must stop. Hopefully, with a new administration that has rejected the divisive rhetoric of the past and a renewed determination by law enforcement to prosecute every incident of racially-motivated violence, our society can put an end to this virus of hate.