By Mohammad Mazhari

Asian-Americans are sick of existing anti-Asian hate crimes: activist

September 25, 2021 - 9:36

TEHRAN – Pointing to the rise of hatred against Asian-Americans in the U.S., an American anti-racist activist says Asians are sick of racism. 

"I think that Asians are sick of the existing anti-Asian hate crimes over the years and have finally started to speak out," Leanna Louie tells the Tehran Times.

As a former Army intelligence officer, Leanna believes that "the media has finally brought a bit of attention to the anti-Asian hatred over the past 18 months, since March 2020."

"When an elected official, especially someone in the position of President use racially charged words like ‘Chinese Virus’, ‘Kung-flu’, or ‘Wuhan Virus’, it sends a subliminal message to those who are ignorant to believe that we are the virus,” said the Chinese American activist who founded a neighborhood watch group called the United Peace Collaborative.

Here is the text of the interview with Ms. Louie:
Q: Reports indicate that the Corona pandemic has exacerbated anti-Asian hate crime in the U.S. What is the reason for that? How do you see the role of the U.S government in this regard, especially Trump's? 

A: Yes, reports have said that anti-Asian hate crimes have skyrocketed in the U.S. since the pandemic. The truth is that anti-Asian hate has been in America since the Chinese immigrants were shipped to the USA to help build the railroad back in the 1840s. 

The Chinese workers were treated horribly, got lower wages than Whites and other ethnicities. In 1871, there was a Chinese massacre which is long forgotten. On October 24, 1871, a mob of around 500 Whites and Hispanic persons entered Old Chinatown and attacked, bullied, robbed, and murdered Chinese people there.

 By the end, 19 Chinese immigrants were killed; 15 of them were later hanged by the mob in the court of the riot. Let's not forget the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, the first piece of explicit racist federal legislation regarding immigration signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. 

When an elected official, especially someone in the position of President, use racially charged words like "Chinese Virus", "Kung-flu", or "Wuhan Virus", it sends a subliminal message to those who are ignorant to believe that we [Asian-Americans] are the virus. I think Asians are sick of the existing anti-Asian hate crimes over the years and have finally started to speak out. The media has finally brought a bit of attention to it over the past 18 months, since March 2020.

When an elected official, especially someone in the position of President, use racially charged words like "Chinese Virus", "Kung-flu", or "Wuhan Virus", it sends a subliminal message to those who are ignorant to believe that we are the virus. Therefore, ignorant people believe that beating or killing a Chinese person or someone who looks Chinese is helping save the world. It is wrong on so many levels. There are so many people who make no sense and have no common sense in this world. That is why it is so important for elected officials to speak without implying or explicitly blaming any race of people to be responsible for any pandemic. Wuhan is one of the biggest flight transfer airports in China. The truth is, anyone could have brought the Coronavirus from any part of the world to China.

Q: Is there widespread awareness among American minorities against racism? Some black activists say that Chinese-Americans collaborate with whites to suppress people of color.

A: I think that most American minorities are aware of racism, and many have experienced it. There are still some people who deny there is any racism, probably because they have not personally experienced it or are blind to the existing racism out there. 

Different people say different things, with or without proof. I do not personally know of any Chinese Americans who are collaborating with Whites to suppress people of color.

 Who is making those accusations? What do they mean by suppression? Why would they do that? Chinese Americans are "People of Color", so the people who exclude us from the "People of Color" designation are misguided. Do White people think that Chinese are NOT "People of Color"? Whoever is accusing Chinese-Americans of this is not seeking peace. Every human being has the same basic needs: food, water, shelter, clothing, and transportation. All other fancy dancy things are not necessary for survival: abundant money, power over others, abundant properties, monopoly of business enterprises, and massive fame. 

Those are human desires that are not always healthy in the grand scheme of things. I have always lived a humble life, and I hope others can see the peace of living humbly. In the USA, we currently live in a system where the poor can apply for and get food stamps, temporary shelter and permanent housing, free clothing, and free public transportation. Why and what are people killing for? It is not necessary to hurt or kill others.

Q: What are the main obstacles that prevent the integration of Asian-Americans into American society?

A: As Asian-Americans, we are not a monolith. There are American Born Asians (ABA). There are immigrant Asian-Americans who later become naturalized Citizens. There are refugee Asian-Americans. Each Asian American has a different journey and different story. I don't think I can simply answer this question without spending more time asking different people about their personal journeys and their particular struggles that may be obstacles that prevent their integration into American society. 

In my personal experience, I am an immigrant from China. My family came to America in different phases. My great grandfather was here shortly after World War II after the Chinese Exclusion Act was lifted. My grandfather was left in China. He came to the U.S. with my parents, my sibling, and me in 1979. My grandfather and parents had an extremely difficult time integrating into American society because of the language barriers. My grandfather ended up working as a dishwasher, then later a kitchen helper at the Empress of China on Grant Avenue in Chinatown. My grandmother was a seamstress at a factory on Powell Street near Vallejo Street. They rarely left Chinatown. They only left Chinatown when one of our uncles or one of us picked them up by car to leave Chinatown. They felt safe in Chinatown but not elsewhere in San Francisco. My father started as a dishwasher, later went to Culinary Art School and became a Chef at the United Irish Cultural Center in the 1980s. He worked for Hotel Nikko in the 1990s until he retired in 2005. My mother started as a seamstress at a factory in Chinatown in the 1980s and then later worked for Holiday Inn on 750 Kearney Street until she retired in 2005. As for myself, I was seven years old when we came to the USA.

I attended public schools in the San Francisco Unified School District. Upon graduation from Mission High School, I enlisted in the U.S. Army at age 18 as a Pharmacy Technician in 1990. After five years, I was recommended to train to be an officer. I did three years of ROTC at Pacific Lutheran University, then was commissioned to be an officer in 1998 and serviced as an officer until January 2001. I worked with African Americans, Latino-Americans, and European-Americans on a daily basis. I was embraced by some and not by others. I do not attribute it to racism or hate because I cannot read anyone's mind. I think some people don't know how to approach or deal with someone who looks different from them, probably due to lack of exposure or lack of interaction.

Q: Do you see any correlation between deterioration of U.S.-China ties and spread of pandemic and anti-Asian hatred?

A: Sadly, yes. I firmly believe that the best thing for the world is to WORLD PEACE. It is disheartening to hear undertones of hate and racism from anyone. The blame game needs to stop. Pandemics happen. Let's just deal with the virus and stop pointing the finger. 

Q: Is there any holistic solution to eradicate crimes against Asian-Americans?

A: I have thought of many things that we can do to work towards more peaceful relationships among Asians, Blacks, Hispanics, and Whites. It would require all people to drop their defenses and start meaningful dialogues. I have lived in San Francisco Bayview Hunters Point since the 1980s, and I support my neighbors in rallies, protests, and events that I feel need attention and support. I won't just jump on anything and everything because some things don't make sense. People really need to open their hearts and eyes. It is important to acknowledge the history of Native Americans, African Americans, Latino Americans, Asian Americans, European Americans, etc. It is even more important to live in the present, not in the past. There's free public education from K-12 and in some colleges in America in this day and age. People need to seek out what works for them not instead of going to hurt others for their personal gain. 

What are the issues we need to deal with in the present? Academics are a big one. I am working with other Asian Leaders in San Francisco to roll out a tutoring system. There will be opportunities for high-achieving students to tutor students who need help. Our goal is to uplift others around us. I would like to see athletic students teach the less athletic students to play basketball, or baseball, or football. I think that if everyone starts to think about their strengths and gifts, each person can bring something to the table, field, or the court to share.