By J1 reporters Jordan Moser & Elleiana Green
Over the last year, blatant acts of racism have become more evident as people have opened their eyes to the treatment of people of color. In June of 2020, people took to the streets to honor the life of George Floyd, but growing tensions made it clear that other minorities were experiencing acts of racism, too.
According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, within the last year alone in 16 of the country’s largest cities, hate crimes targeted at Asian people increased by 150%. In Stop AAPI Hate’s National Forum, as of February 2021, 503 incidents have already occured this year. When the world shut down, due to the COVID pandemic, people were looking for someone to blame; unfortunately, Asian-Americans, regardless of where in Asia they were from, received most of the backlash. This drastically increased anti-Asian sentiments in the United States. Even though statistics have increased in the past year, anti-Asian sentiments have always been deeply rooted in American society.
“Growing up, I was one of the only Asian-American students in my grade school,” senior Katie Corpuz explained. “I remember being called Mulan and Moana frequently, but as a young Filipina girl, I never realized it was an issue.” Throughout most of Corpuz’s childhood, she experienced microaggressions, and she was completely unaware of it. Corpuz went on to describe, “In public, people would ask my parents where I was adopted from, and as I grew up, people continued to question where I was actually from.” As Corpuz grew older, she began to understand that these comments were unacceptable.
As tensions have risen in the last year, identifying as Asian has been a struggle for many Americans. “I remember when I heard the phrases, ‘Chinese virus’ and ‘Kung Flu’, it really hurt,” Corpuz said. “It was disappointing to see those in power connecting a virus to a group of people. It isn’t surprising to see a rise in hate crimes because of this rhetoric.” Even though fear and disappointment continue to cloud Corpuz’s mind, she is still proud to be who she is. Using the tools and resources she learned from attending Black Lives Matter protests over the summer, Corpuz uses her voice to speak up about AAPI (Asian American/Pacific Islander) hate. Since last summer, she has attended several AAPI events to raise awareness and provide resources to Asian American communities to remain safe.
“I still have a hard time talking about the racism I have experienced,” Corpuz explained. “I wish my non-Asian friends made more of an effort to ask, but I also realize some people don’t know what is going on.” Reaching out to those facing discrimination can be challenging to communicate when you have not experienced it first hand. Nonetheless, it is important to make an effort. “Sharing things on social media, even though it doesn’t always seem like enough, starts the conversation and allows others to learn more,” Corpuz said.
Corpuz, like many other Asian-Americans, does not let the increasing violence get in the way of her optimism for a brighter future. “I’m really proud of the Marian community for starting to be more inclusive, and in the future, I hope to have more conversations with others to open the door for change and healing to occur.”
Currently, there are 19 Marian students who fully or partially identify as being of Asian or Pacific Islander descent, according to enrollment statistics. In a world full of hate and bigotry, it is important to be an ally to the Asian community and voice that Asian lives matter.