Xenophobia: Is it New or Are We Just Normalizing It?

By Rachel Jason

Ever since the Coronavirus invaded America, racism towards the Asian community has heightened. Many Asian Americans have been targeted by violence, like Danny Satow, an Asian woman, who was called a racial slur after a water bottle was thrown at her by a passing driver, as reported by National Geographic. Several Asian businesses around the United States have been vandalized; in which 11 were Asian-owned businesses in Portland, Oregon. Fiona Lam and Nicholas Ho, two Asian American students that attend Garnet Valley High School are bringing awareness to this issue. 

During the interview, a frequently mentioned point was how xenophobia towards Asian Americans has always existed. They report that it is not a new occurrence—it has simply become normalized. “Racism against Asians isn’t new, it just has become more prevalent and easier for people to do because of COVID,” Fiona Lam stated. 

From the point of view of two Asian-American teenagers that have grown up in a predominantly white area, their thoughts and experiences regarding xenophobia were brought to light. 

After sharing a few experiences involving racism, Nicholas Ho repeatedly said that he was not offended by those racist actions. “I believe being offended by it gives those people power, which is what they want.” Although Nicholas has found a way to take back the power from the oppressor, other Asian Americans understandably take offense and struggle against the racism they experience. 

During the interview, Nicholas said, “If you have the opportunity to educate yourself, do it.” Education is incredibly important and has become easier these past few years. There are a variety of sources on the internet and social media that provide educational resources to help educate the people.

Furthermore, Fiona reminded society, “if you choose to use the internet or social media as your resource, you should be conscious of what you are learning and that you are broadening the sources you use.” However, social media and the internet do not have to be your only source of knowledge. 

As a society, the opportunity to make decisions for one’s self and experience various environments is open to all. “Trying to expose yourself to other cultures is so important,” Nicholas stated. Surrounding yourself with new ideas that you may not have been exposed to is one of the many important steps in combating racism. 

Educating oneself and addressing the harsh reality that many Asian Americans are facing today is one of the steps in combating the hundreds of years of racism that Asian Americans suffer from. 

It is important to understand that discrimination towards Asian Americans is embedded into American history.

In the 1880s, the Chinese Exclusion Act, in which the United States government banned Chinese immigrants, was the beginning of the country’s attempt to discriminate against Asians. 

Another policy known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act was in place to stop Asian and Indian immigration in the U.S. In 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt forced more than 120,000 Japanese Americans into internment camps. 

As a result, the 1890s was marked by the fight against Asian Americans for their civil rights. It is important to acknowledge the fact that oppression towards the Asian community has always been present and furthermore normalized.  Consequently, due to the current violence towards Asian Americans in the United States, people have become more aware of the fact. 

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