Asian-Americans have been marching, rallying and speaking out publicly with calls for more police protection and hate crime prosecutions after a rash of unprovoked and increasing attacks aimed at them in the New York area and around the country.
We stand with the Asian-American community in condemning this violent trend, and we urge all New Yorkers to support them as well.
Our Asian sisters and brothers represent a large and growing community of New Yorkers, but they’re not known for making waves or calling attention to themselves in any way.
It’s good to hear their voices and to see them standing together.
It’s unfortunate, however, that the impetus was a rise of violence targeting their communities.
The shocking mass shootings that left eight people dead, six of them Asian-American women, at three Asian-run massage parlors in the Atlanta area last week was the spark that set off the response among Asian-Americans gathering in protest.
The March 16 killing spree was an extreme incidence of what has been a sharply escalating climate of anti-Asian violence. Most incidents have been isolated under the radar attacks on Asian people, frequently elderly, who are pushed to the ground or otherwise randomly assaulted by passersby.
Last Friday, a 68-year-old Sri-Lankan man sitting in a Manhattan subway car wound up in critical condition after an unprovoked beating by a 6-foot-2 attacker shouting anti-Asian slurs. On Sunday, a 54-year-old Chinese woman was struck in the face by a pipe-wielding man near Chinatown who yelled that he was there to attack Asians.
Many Asian-Americans, especially older people, have become fearful of leaving their homes in the current climate.
We don’t know for sure what’s behind this outbreak of anti-Asian violence, but suspect it may have to do with Wuhan, China, being the first place that Covid-19 was known to have surfaced.
Whatever the reason, it has to stop.
While the Asian-American community is growing in New York—it’s a population estimated at 1.9 million in New York City alone—it is still very much a minority in the general population.
The Asian population also is a diverse group. In New York, the largest communities consist of people whose backgrounds are Chinese, Korean, Filipino and Vietnamese as well as south Asians from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh and elsewhere.
Many are immigrants who came to this country for the same reasons that immigrants have been arriving on our shores for centuries: Opportunities for work, education and a better life.
Others have been here for generations and have become part of our larger American society, in our cities, suburbs and rural areas. They’re our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and, often, our fellow parishioners.
We should all offer them a willing ear and our solidarity when they’re scapegoated and attacked.
Asian-Americans are as entitled to all of the rights and protections as any Americans, and discrimination against them in any form, whether violent or otherwise, is unacceptable and should be condemned.
Again, especially as we head into Holy Week, our prayers and support are with them.