Recent anti-Asian crimes within the country have ignited protests and demands to stop violence and prejudices toward the Asian, Asian-American and Pacific-Islanders communities.
Research done by the Stop AAPI Hate organization’s national report has shown an increase in violence faced by the communities within the past year.
Thanh Mai Lam, a senior international student from Vietnam, hasn’t faced physical harm, but has noticed a difference in the way she’s been treated before and after COVID-19.
“When I travel [to] different cities, let’s say Washington D.C. or New York, then I face more looks,” Lam said. “It’s like they’re more aware of my existence after the coronavirus.
“Before [the coronavirus], it wasn’t much because of the diversity in the United States.”
Lam recalled a conversation with her aunt who has lived in Washington, D.C. for more than 30 years and who fears for her safety at night.
Yihan Goa is a senior who is part of Troy’s 1+2+1 program, a partnership with the China Center for International Educational Exchange.
Goa never thought about racism before coming to America.
“Some people just treat you in a different way, but I think that’s because people don’t know about you or your culture,” Goa said.
Goa said there has not been much change in the way she’s treated, but according to Biwaksha Shrestha, it’s because it’s always been prevalent.
“Honestly, the hate has been there forever,” Shrestha said. “I’ve faced it before the pandemic; I’ve faced it after.”
Shrestha is a junior international student from Kathmandu, Nepal.
Shrestha said her accent is the forefront of racist remarks.
“When people hear me speak, they assume you’re international and here to ‘take our jobs,’” Shrestha said.
Shrestha knows people who have gotten into physical altercations because of racist rhetoric.
Goa recalled her first time hearing about a mass shooting in Atlanta, Georgia, known as the “Atlanta spa shooting.”
Eight people were killed, six of whom were Asian women.
“The first time I saw the Atlanta shooting, I was angry and frustrated,” Goa said. “I don’t understand why people do things because of your color.”
Goa says the Asian community can tend to be quiet when it comes to using their voice to stand up to the prejudices they face, but she’s glad more people are stepping up after the shooting.
Lam has the same outlook.
“I believe that raising awareness is very important,” Lam said. “You have to bring awareness and say ‘Hey, we need help.’”
Shrestha said it’s become normalized for minorities to stay silent about prejudices, but she hopes that people will learn to speak up for themselves.
“Before, when this was not too much in the media, a lot of Asian people just took it,” Shrestha said.
Shrestha said violence starts by projecting stereotypes, including when people say things about the Asian community’s intelligence or asking things like “How’d you learn English so well?”
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“They’re stereotypes that people think are funny, but they’re not,” Shrestha said.
Although she’s still learning, Shrestha has gotten better about standing up for herself.
“I keep telling myself that I should, and maybe I would in the situation,” Shrestha said. “But if it was me, I don’t know what I would do in that situation.
“There’s a difference between me now and freshman me. Try to talk back because a lot of people are [stereotyping] unknowingly.”
The threat to the Asian community will not tear the women away from their education across the globe.
Goa will graduate in May and plans to study for her master’s degree in Europe. Lam will graduate in December and explore opportunities in Canada, and Shrestha will graduate in 2022 and is considering Troy as an option for graduate school.