Why anti-Asian violence is on the rise — again

A man holds a sign that says "Racism is a virus."
A man holds a sign that reads "Racism is a Virus" during the "We Are Not Silent" rally against anti-Asian hate in response to recent anti-Asian crime in the Chinatown-International District of Seattle earlier this month.
Jason Redmond | AFP via Getty Images file

Six Asian women were among the eight people killed last week when a gunman went on a rampage at three Atlanta-area spas. The suspect, a 21-year-old white man, was arrested and is facing multiple murder and firearms charges. Right now, police say his crimes do not appear to have been motivated by race.

But researchers see it differently. Crimes targeting Asian Americans have risen dramatically since the start of the pandemic. Stop AAPI Hate, a coalition that’s tracking incidents of violence and discrimination against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States, said there were close to 3,800 racist incidents this past year, mostly against women. Scholars say Asian women face threats because American culture fetishizes them.

MPR News host Kerri Miller discussed the problem of anti-Asian violence with two experts who know the history and the tropes that shape the Asian experience in America.  

Guests:

  • Nancy Wang Yuen is a sociologist at Biola University and an author of “Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism.”

  • Lok Siu is an associate professor of Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley.

Editor’s note (March 24, 2021): During the live show, a caller used an incorrect number to describe racial demographics of Duluth, Minn. Duluth is 89.7 percent white. The incorrect figure was removed from the audio attached to this page.

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