BUFFALO, N.Y. — Since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, there has been increasing attention on anti-Asian and Asian-American hate crimes across the United States.
According to a recent study from the Center of Hate and Extremism at California State University, in 16 of America's largest cities, hate crimes against Asian Americans has jumped nearly 150 percent from 2019 to 2020. New York City and Los Angeles top the list in terms of anti-Asian reported incidents.
The fatal shootings at three Atlanta spas on Tuesday has only drawn more attention to the issue.
Atlanta police have confirmed that eight people were shot and killed after a gunman opened fire. Police say six of those victims were Asian women.
Dr. Zhang Jie immigrated to the United States from China and works as a distinguished professor of sociology at Buffalo State College, and he has lived in the United States for 35 years.
Dr. Zhang says the dramatic increase and frequency of these targeted hate crimes is unlike anything he has ever experienced.
"I've been here for 35 years, and it's my first time to see so many things like this happening in this country," he said.
While investigators have not confirmed whether the Atlanta shootings were racially motivated, many others have been and this national trend appears to be spiking.
"Unfortunately, about 4,000 cases happened in just the past one month. That is more than the past 10 years," Dr. Zhang says.
STOP AAPI HATE is a not-for-profit coalition that works to raise awareness about hate crimes targeting the Asian American Pacific Islander communities. According to their national report, hate incidents have increased dramatically during the pandemic. Chinese are reportedly the largest ethnic group that report experiencing hate, followed by Koreans, Vietnamese, and Filipinos.
"A lot of Chinese in Buffalo are very afraid," Dr. Zhang says.
Two major reasons, he says: They don't want to be discriminated against or targeted.
While Dr. Zhang says this year has been especially hard for the Asian community, he is hopeful that this dark period will pass.
"This is against our core values in this country," he said.