Upper Marlboro Asian community fear rise in anti-Asian harassment
By Glory Ngwe
May 11, 2021
Image Credit: Courtesy of Jason Leung for Unsplash
Asian community members in Upper Marlboro voiced their concerns about the rise in hate crimes and harassment against people in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Since the pandemic began, there has been an exponential increase in racially motivated violence against people in the Asian community.
Cathy Vu, a 29-year-old Vietnam native, said she has been taking extra precautions this past year--not only because of the global pandemic but also to protect her family from a different virus: racism.
“I feel a little bit scared for me,” Vu said. “For my kids too. I have kids so I am very scared for them.”
These days, Vu finds it hard to watch the news or scroll through Twitter because she comes across a new case of anti-Asian violence every day.
“I feel very sad about that,” Vu said. “Everyone is different; even Americans or anybody. Everyone’s different. We cannot be racist like that.”
Hate crimes against Asian Americans has spiked by 150% in major U.S. cities since the pandemic began, according to the Stop Asian American and Pacific Islanders Hate activist organization. The organization reports people have been beaten, spat on, and even killed from xenophobic and racial field brutality. However, verbal harassment and shunning made up more than 90% of the incidents.
“We cannot control people to tell them ‘oh you have to stop saying that’,” Vu said. “We just have to listen and then let it go away.”
Phuong Nguyen, a 50-year-old nail shop owner from Vietnam, has owned her business for about three and a half years. Its entire staff is Asian. “It makes me nervous that it’s going to affect us,” Nguyen said.
Nguyen said communicating with customers was already challenging because of the language barrier. Now, she said, it has gotten much worse.
“I think it’s partly a misunderstanding between cultures and partly racism,” Nguyen said. “Everybody has to be careful and talk nice to each other. If you respect them I believe they can respect you back.”
The rises in harassment lead to the #StopAsianHate movement on social media where people of the Asian community and allies spread awareness.
Vu said she is just trying to focus on her work and take care of her family. She wants to continue living her life normally and to shield her young kids from all the noise.
“Just ignore it,” Vu said. “Whatever is good for you, take it inside or keep it for yourself. If it is not good then just let it go. You can’t please all the people.”