Asian Americans in NJ remain on alert as hate crimes rise across the country
Police in Atlanta say that it is too soon to know if deadly shootings at spas in the city are the result of a hate crime. But with six of the victims being Asian, it is stoking fears as hate crimes against the Asian American community are already on the rise.
The rise in bias crimes also comes as many Asian American-owned businesses deal with the difficulties of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The income has been cut down by more than 50%,” says Grace Kim of New Splendid Nail & Spa in Fort Lee.
As a Korean American, Kim says that she is dealing with growing discrimination and bias as well as the economic impact of the pandemic.
“I was always having a little anxiety in that topic. Any time a customer comes in without an appointment or people that I don’t recognize, I would get a little anxious,” she says.
The deadly attack on Asian women in Atlanta highlights an issue the continues to get worse. Rising hate crime against Asian Americans was the topic of a hearing on Capitol Hill on Thursday.
According to the group Stop AAPI Hate, there were 3,795 hate crimes reported against Asian Americans in the year after COVID-19 was discovered in China. Of those attacks, 59 – or 1.55% of them were in New Jersey. It is a big increase from the 37 crimes reported to state police in 2019. And this only refers to reported incidents.
“It’s really become a boiling point. For many years Asian Americans have experienced discrimination and violence disproportionally,” says Rutgers Institute of Health Dr. XinQi Dong.
Dong researches Asian American issues at Rutgers. He says that he believes that the hearings in Washington are a good first step. But he says that more needs to be done on both a federal and state level.
Kim says that she agrees and says that it needs to be done before tings become more than just uncomfortable for her.
“What I notice recently when I walk down on the street, I can see other people walking around me. I do the same thing and I’m just going to pretend that it’s the COVID. But I can see it’s because of who I am,” she says.
Dong says that he would like to see the state of New Jersey make reporting hate crimes easier by making it anonymous and user-friendly in more languages.