On April 16, 2011, in a FedEx facility in Indiana province, USA, a man shot and killed eight people including four from the Sikh community and three women. It is yet to determine whether this incident is related to Asian American hate crime or not. But this incident is the biggest incident ever since the 2012 mass shooting at Oak Creek Gurdwara in which 7 Sikh community people were killed.
In the FedEx facility where this incident happened, 90% of the workers are Indian-Americans. Sources said that, most of them are from the Sikh community.
Last year, the number of Asian American Hate crimes in America grew very fast. For example, in March, eight people were shot dead by one person in the Atlanta region of America, out of which 6 were Asian women.
The man said that he did not kill them because of Asian American Hate; he killed them because of sex addiction. To understand this point, we have to understand the mentality of the people and have to look at its historical perspective.
History of Asian Americans
After ending slavery in America, thousands of Chinese people came to the USA in search of work.
In the early 1850s, young single men from Southern China started working as contract laborers in American companies. These people used to work as miners, railroad builders, farmers, and factory workers.
Page Act of 1875
The Chinese population grew so fast in the USA that by 1870 China accounted for 20% of California’s total labor force. And seeing this growing population, America’s first immigration law came in 1875, the Page Act of 1875. Because of this act, East Asian women were evicted from the USA because of a stereotype that they are sex workers.
In the opening, we talked about the Atlanta incident in which one person shot and killed eight people, in which there were 6 Asian women. It may be that people still think that Asian women are related to sex work.
During the 1876 depression, violence against the Chinese people increased, and Americans started saying that they were taking away our jobs. And, anti-Chinese Legislation and Violence spread throughout the West Coast.
Chinese Exclusion Act 1882
And because of this, on 6 May 1882, the US Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act. This act halted Chinese immigration for 60 years. This become the starting point of “Chinese Must Go” movement, and because of this, Chinese immigration to America decreased to 10 in 1887 which was 39500 in 1882.
By 1885, due to the Chinese Exclusion Act, large groups of Japanese, Korean and Indian laborers started coming to the West Coast.
But gradually, Japanese immigration began to grow. And, anti-Japanese Legislation and Violence led to Gentlemen’s Agreement between the USA and Japan in 1907. And this agreement stopped Japanese immigration to America.
South Asians in America
After the Chinese Exclusion Law, South Asian and Indian immigrants also came to the USA as Labor. But these people did not go to America first. They went to the Canadian Pacific Railroad Companies, and there these companies hired a few thousand Sikh immigrants. After that, many immigrants went to the Pacific Northwest and California to become laborers. Because of this, some white laborers and exclusionists called it a ‘Hindu invasion’.
Due to this, in 1917, the US Congress said that the Pacific is part of the Barred Zone. This means that Indians also cannot come to America.
In 1924, except for the Filipino Nationals, all Asian immigrants, including Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Indians, were forced out of the law and refused to give citizenship and naturalization.
Executive Order 9066
The Chinese Exclusion Act is an example of discrimination that occurs with Asian Americans. Like at the time of World War 2, President Franklin D. Roosevelt passed Executive Order 9066. Due to this order, more than 100,000 Japanese descent people were placed in detention camps in the US.
For nearly half a decade, from 1882 to 1935, Asian immigrants helped build America, but it gained the right to become a citizen after 1952.
When Trump was President
Over time, discrimination began to increase, and Islamophobia and anti-South Asian violence also increased.
These discriminations went even further after Donald Trump became president. After the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, Trump called the virus with names that seemed to have been spread by Asian people, such as ‘Chinese virus’ ‘Wuhan virus’ and ‘Kung Flu’. And, because of this, the anger of the people increased for the Asian people.
The “STOP AAPI HATE” organization had reported 3800 cases from March 19, 2020, to February 28, 2021. Out of which, 500 is of 2021. These incidents includes 68% of verbal assessment, followed by avoidance and then physical assault.
Women face hate incidents 2.3 times more than men. And Chinese ethnic groups have the highest record of 42.2%, followed by Koreans at 14.8%.
After Joe Biden and Kamala Harris became presidents and vice presidents, the Hate Crimes against Asian American people are expected to reduce. And this is very important.