Anti-Asian violence appears to be increasing across the country, in the San Francisco Bay Area in particular and with seniors the most frequent targets.
Some Asian American actors are using their high profiles to draw attention to the problem.
Daniel Wu (“Into the Badlands,” “Tomb Raider”) and Daniel Dae Kim (“Lost,” “Hawaii Five-0”) responded to a videotaped attack on an elderly Asian man in Oakland Chinatown on Jan. 31 by offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrator. The same person is believed to have attacked two other seniors in Chinatown.
“Despite the skyrocketing number of hate crimes against Asian Americans this past year, our pleas for help go unheard,” Wu said when he posted the surveillance video on Instagram. “The crimes somehow excused. Remember Vincent Chin. We continue to be dismissed. Not today.
“Daniel Dae Kim and I are offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of this man and his accomplices.
“We must do more to help the literally thousands of Americans who have suffered at the hands of this absolutely senseless violence. We must take a stand and say, ‘no more.’ Please help us bring this criminal to justice.”
“We’re looking for help from our community organizers,” Kim told CBS News. “We’re looking for help from our legislators and politicians.”
He cited a United Nations report that found more than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans were committed between March and May of 2020 alone. The report linked the attacks to the public perception that the coronavirus is the fault of China and Chinese people.
“This is a growing problem,” Kim said. “These are numbers we’ve never seen before … Those of us who have been following these issues since COVID started have seen these kinds of incidents in our news feeds pop up almost daily, and yet we see very little being done about it.”
Kim called on Asian Americans to have pride in their heritage: “Be proud to be Asian. Be proud to be American. You’ve earned the right to be both and we can all work together to be a united America. That’s the hope. That’s the dream.”
Actress Olivia Munn (“The Newsroom,” “X-men: Apocalypse”), who is of Chinese descent on her mother’s side, addressed anti-Asian violence in a series of social media posts on Feb. 10 and 11.
After hearing of 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee’s death after being assaulted in San Francisco, she wrote, “Over the past few days, I’ve found myself at a loss for words at the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes. The racist, verbal and physical assaults have left my community fearful to step outside.
“These hate crimes have spiked since COVID and continue to increase even though we ask for help, even though we ask our fellow Americans to be outraged for us, even though we ask for more mainstream media coverage.
“Hate crimes against Asian Americans have become so bad that in just the past week a 91-year-old Asian American man was attacked from behind as he walked down the street in Oakland, an 84-year-old Thai American was murdered in San Francisco, a 64-year-old Vietnamese American woman was assaulted in San Jose, and a Filipino American man was slashed in the face in Manhattan.
“To simply exist as a minority in this country is seen as a protest to some. We need help amplifying the outrage. We need help to feel safe in our country. We need help to be safe in our country.”
Munn also posted a quote from Korean American journalist David Yi: “You cannot be anti-racist in America without acknowledging the Asian American experience.”
Actress Gemma Chan (“Crazy Rich Asians,” “Captain Marvel”) has also spoken out on the subject. “Hate crimes against Asian Americans have skyrocketed but too often these attacks are ignored and underreported,” she tweeted. “This is not limited to the U.S.; in the U.K. attacks against East and Southeast Asians have increased 300% during the pandemic. Please share and raise awareness.”
President Trump and his supporters routinely referred to COVID-19 as the “China virus,” “Wuhan virus” and “kung flu.” Shortly after taking office, President Biden signed an executive order condemning racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
Wu said the executive order is a “step in the right direction,” but added, “What the federal government can do further on is reach out to community groups that are already in this space and have been doing this work for years and find out more about how they can help.”