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AS I SEE IT: Asian Hate Crime: A Look on Asian in Hawaii vs the Mainland

Let’s have a look at being Asian in Hawaii vs the Mainland. From an old topic that someone has posted a year ago, I get the sense that Asians in Hawaii are more secure about their identity compared to Asians on the mainland. As in, their racial background didn’t so much define who they are in society, things like occupations & hobbies are more definitive than ethnicity. This is as opposed to mainland AAs that always feel that they are always seen as Asian first. The Asian cook, the Asian lawyer, etc. (reddit r/Hawaii)

“Granted,” the report said, “I think many Asians on the mainland never felt they were racially discriminated either personally or systemically. They may not even know that there is anything other than what they feel day to day, and think it’s just the norm – and being completely fine with that. It’s probably just an inherent effect of not being in the majority group, unlike Asians in Hawaii.”

The report continued: “Good friends of mine, an Asian family born on the mainland, moved to Hawaii for just this reason. They’ve been living there for two years and tell me about how accepted and comfortable they feel, raising their kids there. They say it’s just the peace of mind that they never even knew they wanted, that they didn’t realize the whole they were on the mainland.”

In the mainland, hate crime among Asians, especially the elderly, occur so often. Suddenly you hear a senior citizen being a victim of extortion in city streets; Asians being mulled and accosted in department stores, in the parking lot, and right in their homes. This is alarming!

ABC News reported that, since March 2020, Stop AAPI Hate has tracked nearly 11,500 hate incidents and up to now Anti-Asian racism still haunts San Francisco community (ABC reports by Kiara Alfonseca, Alysha Webb and Julian Kim).

Statistics further show San Francisco officials received 60 reports of hate crimes against AAPI people in the city during 2021, a more than 500% increase compared to the nine incidents reported in 2020. Again, the figures are alarmingly concerning considering that most of the victims are seniors like me. This is one of the reasons why it is preventing us not to visit San Francisco for leisure or site seeing. Most Asian visitors/tourists are likewise prey, just like the seniors.

Between March 2020 and March 31, 2022, Jeung’s group Stop AAPI Hate recorded nearly 11,500 reports of hate incidents against Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) persons across the U.S.

“We have high numbers of elders reporting, even though elders tend to under report,” Jeung said. “Our Asian elders, they often don’t speak English. They don’t have online technology. So, the high rate of elders reporting just shows that it is a problem facing them.”

While Anti-Asian hate incidents are reportedly down across the country, the trauma and reality of this hate remains, especially for Susanna Yee, whose 88-year-old grandmother was brutally attacked while exercising one morning in a local park in January 2019.

“Although I have come to a place of forgiveness, there’s still pain and feelings of grief that wells up occasionally,” Yee, the granddaughter of Yik Oi Huang, said in an interview with ABC News.

Reported hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders kept on increasing. It rose to 567 percent last year, with half of the victims allegedly targeted by one man.  The mayor of San Francisco expressed despair over the increase in reported hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders last year, up an astonishing 567 percent from the previous year, according to preliminary figures released by the police department on Tuesday. (Associated Press)

San Francisco Mayor London Breed pledged continued support for the community, saying she suspects actual numbers are much higher because people are reluctant to report to the police.

I agree with Mayor Reed, and in fact other public officials maintain the same opinion with her. Berryessa District School Board Trustee and former CA District 25 Assembly member Kansen Chu for example said the same thing. In an interview, he said: “The reason why Asian Americans are easy prey is because they are reserved, very quiet, law-abiding citizens, and seldom go out in the community and mingle with others.

Chu said they need to make their presence felt in the community, they need to be brave enough to report to the police or to the authorities if they are mistreated or bullied and have to testify if needed.

In his years of public service, Chu observed lots of Asians shy away from controversies and are afraid to come out when bullied or so. “I think we need to mobilize social media to encourage them to go out and to show their presence in the community. Also, during elections, I observed that they are not studying the credentials and qualities of the candidates they are voting for. They need to scrutinize their qualifications, spend their time to know their candidates, and vote for the candidates who are worthy of serving the community,” Chu commented.

Obviously, Chu is saying that, to avoid being prey, Asians need to show their presence in the community, be vigilant, concerned with what’s going on in the area, and connect with their officials and leaders in the community. They need to assert their rights and be more courageous enough to report incidents of injustice or personal physical injuries they incurred as victims. They need to be assertive and brave for any injustices… not remain silent or reluctant to report a crime to the police… they need to come out in the open.

I think that’s the reason why statistics do not show the whole picture because not everyone reports the incidents.

According to a study released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) in the Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice, the nation’s Asian, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islander population had the lowest rates of violent and property victimizations among all racial and ethnic groups between 2002 and 2006.

Among Asians (referring to Native Hawaiians, other Pacific Islanders, and persons having origin in the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian subcontinent), the average annual rate of nonfatal violent victimization (including rape or sexual assault, robbery, aggravated assault and simple assault) was about 11 per 1,000 persons age 12 or older, compared to 24 per 1,000 among non-Asians. The average annual rate of property victimization (including household burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft) among Asian households was 115 per 1,000 households, compared to 162 per 1,000 non-Asian households.

The report further said Asians were victims in 340 homicides during 2006 or about two percent of all murders in that year. Asian homicide victims were typically male or age 30 or younger. Nearly 3 in 4 Asian homicide victims were males, and about half of all Asian homicide victims were age 30 or younger.

Most nonfatal violent crimes against Asians were committed by strangers, the report said. An estimated 77 percent of violent crimes against Asian males (compared to 59 percent for non-Asian males) were committed by strangers. About half of violent crimes against Asian females were committed by strangers, compared to 34 percent for non-Asian females.

As to the percentage of violent crime committed by intimate partners (current or former spouses, boyfriends, or girlfriends, including same-sex relationships) against Asian females (13 percent) was lower than that for non-Asian females (22 percent).

Offenses measured in the study include those reported to police as well as those that went unreported. About half of all nonfatal violent crimes against Asian victims were reported to police, a percentage similar to that of whites and Hispanics. About 40 percent of property crimes against Asian households were reported to the police, which was the same percentage found for white, black, and Hispanic households. (Data based on BJS’s National Crime Victimization Survey and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program’s Supplementary Homicide Reports.)

Fellow Americans, in the light of all the reports and latest developments, let’s be vigilant, let us assert our rights and let’s come out in the open! Just like a thief in the night, we don’t know when they will strike!

 

(ELPIDIO R. ESTIOKO was a veteran journalist in the Philippines and a multi-awarded journalist here in the US. For feedbacks, comments email the author at estiokoelpidio@gmail.com.)