Why is #StopAsianHate trending on social media?

Why is #StopAsianHate trending on social media?

American celebrities condemn the rising acts of violence towards the Asian American community.
22 Mar, 2021

Social media has been abuzz with the hashtag #StopAsianHate recently and a number of celebrities are speaking out against anti-Asian violence.

A 21-year-old white shooter stormed into massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia in the US and killed six Asian women. People are now calling out the rise in violence towards people of Asian descent.

Actor Sandra Oh, known for her role in Grey's Anatomy, took to Twitter to condemn the mass shootings. "I send loving kindness and support to the families of the eight souls murdered in Georgia on March 16th. And to all the victims of racist violence."

Big names such as Rihanna and Iron Man star Gwyneth Paltrow also posted words of support for the Asian-American community on their Instagram accounts.

"I send deep love to the Asian American community today," wrote Paltrow. "You make our country better, we love you."

Asian hate and the pandemic

Celebrities are highlighting the sharp rise in hate crimes against Asian-Americans since the Covid-19 pandemic began last year.

American actor and comedian Mindy Kaling tweeted how "the targeting of our Asian brothers and sisters is sickening, but not surprising given the normalizing of anti-Asian hate speech in the past year."

Actress Olivia Munn, who starred in the movie X-Men Apocalypse in 2016, wrote on Instagram about how "hate crimes have spiked since Covid and continue to increase even though we ask for help." Munn grew up in Tokyo.

Racial jokes surrounding phrases such as "Kung-Flu", "Wuhan Virus" and "Chinese Virus" gained popularity on social media in 2020 as people accused Asians of causing the spread of Covid-19 globally. The country worst-affected by the virus, however, is the US, which recently crossed 500,000 Covid cases. Asian countries such as China are celebrating defeating the virus.

The situation was exacerbated when former US President Donald Trump tweeted and referred to the COVID-19 virus as the "Chinese Virus" in March 2020. According to a study, there was a large rise in anti-Asian hashtags on Twitter after the tweet was published.

Some celebrities are also highlighting that racial discrimination against the Asian-American community is an issue that goes back long before the pandemic. In an interview to Anderson Cooper of *CNN*, Star Trek actor George Takei spoke about the constant presence of anti-Asian sentiment in America.

"It is an existing thing in American society, but it goes dormant for a while. And when there is an event that terrorises people because of Asians or Asian-Americans, then it wells up again."

In 2019, Takei published his graphic Memoir They Called Us Enemy, which details his family's imprisonment in camps guarded by US soldiers during World War II. In 1941, the US entered the war after Japan bombed the American Naval fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The Takei family, along with 120,000 other Japanese Americans, were placed in camps solely because of their Japanese ancestry. In 1942, a naval officer reported that Japanese Americans were perceived as a threat 'because of the physical characteristics of the people'.

The fast growing social media campaign condemning Anti-Asian violence bears resemblance to the popular Black Lives Matter movement, a campaign that voices concern against white supremacy, racial discrimination and violence historically faced by the African American community in the US. Many leaders of colour have voiced their support against anti-Asian violence, asking that all lives be respected irrespective of race and colour. US President Joe Biden has also called for a stop to hatred in the country.