Asian Americans battle increasing hate crimes and job losses during the pandemic


Momos | Wikimedia Commons

Shania DeGroot

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Asian Americans have had to endure the rise of hate crimes and speech against them, in addition to the closure of many of their businesses and high unemployment rates within their communities.

Attacks on older Asian Americans, such as burglaries, robberies and assaults, especially have escalated in recent weeks. An attacker shoved an 84-year-old Asian man to the ground in San Francisco, killing him. A 61-year-old Asian man was stabbed across the face in New York City.

Additionally, before the recent uptick, one out of every four Asian American teenagers had experienced racial bullying.

In response to the recent increase in anti-Asian violence in the United States, Asian American restaurant owners in New York City have banded together to launch an initiative: #EnoughIsEnough.

#EnoughIsEnough is a fundraising movement to raise awareness about the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans around the country while also raising funds to donate food to underserved New York City shelters.

The project is supported by nearly two dozen restaurants and companies.

The campaign was launched on Givebutter, a fundraising website with a target of raising $25,000, and thecampaign had already raised over $41,000.

“Our hope is to show that by gathering together, no matter the ‘size’ of anyone’s platform, our voices can make an impact.” Moonlynn Tsai, co-owner and operator of Kopitiam, a Malaysian restaurant in New York City, said.

According to a July analysis of COVID-19’s effect on Asian jobs, nearly one in every four Asian- American employees work in hospitality and leisure, retail or other services like salons and dry cleaners. Those industries are among the worst-affected by the pandemic.

In December, the 5.9% unemployment rate among the approximately 10 million Asian workers was lower than the national rate. However, almost half of jobless Asians had been unemployed for at least 27 weeks in the final three months of 2020, a higher percentage than that of white, Black or Hispanic Americans.

COVID-19 has also wreaked havoc on the economy of many Asian Americans, crippling industries and displacing thousands of jobs. Between February and June, the unemployment rate among Asian Americans increased by more than 450%.

“Asian Americans were initially hard hit,” Don Mar, study co-author and emeritus professor of economics at San Francisco State University, said.

According to researchers, the number of Asian-owned small businesses decreased disproportionately within the first two months of the pandemic relative to those owned by non- Hispanic Whites. Asian-Americans made up 16% of the labor force in California in February and filed 19% of initial unemployment claims in the first two-and-a-half months of the shutdown, according to Mar.

By mid-April, they accounted for 9% of jobs and 14% of claims in New York State.

The conversation for Asian Americans is changing as they try to adjust to the new financial and racial challenges their communities are facing during the pandemic. They strive to break barriers by advocating and uniting on issues that affect their community, while forming solidarity with other minorities in America. page2image12277184