Opinion Editorial: “Habits, Heritage, and Histories of American Hatred | A REMINDER that Asian American and Racial & Ethnic Hate are American Traditions”
For the past few weeks, I have been proud to see the advocacy against Anti-Asian hate in America. To many this seems like a new category of racial hate, but if we reflect with truth and honesty we can tell this is more of an American tradition. As I learn from my work as a person and professional dedicated to vitiating anti-Blackness, I must admit I am inundated by the correlations between this time of reckoning Anti-Asian American hate to that experienced by many other racial and ethnic groups.
The United States has an incessant need for revisionism and erasure of its inhumane treatment of non-white people. Similar to what we see and know about Black and Indigenous histories, as an example, this moment is longstanding and has various events of domestic terrorism that get us here.
For example, from 1942 -1945 this country developed Internment Camps (or prisons) to incarcerate Japanese Americans in response to Pearl Harbor on American soil. That was here… in this country… in this America. That is not new and is part of this country’s history that, since inception, has denied humanity to people on the basis of race, ethnicity, culture, and limited proximity to whiteness. Today we see this investment in hate from 75 years prior never left. It has mutated, as viruses do, into a more durable, insidious disease passed down from body to body.
And sadly that is only one example, you can go back further to the Chinese Massacres of 1871 & 1885, when white mobs in Los Angeles and Wyoming killed and destroyed Chinese communities. You can see this with the Bubonic Plague of the 1900s when all of San Francisco’s Chinatown was quarantined because of suspicion that Asian-Americans were predisposed to the plague and then ostracized them from society. Sound familiar? This happened in the “Great America” folks are fighting to have again. As I think about all of this, my concern is that, as we continue to see happen with Black, Latino, Indigenous, and Women folk, Asian-American hate will be misrepresented as moments and incidents reflected in these times instead of the transmutation of America’s heritage of hate from histories into habits.
So in 2021, this idea of a “rise,” while true statistically, misrepresents America. America is a co-conspirator in hate and has long refused sanctuary to Asian folk, just as it’s done for Indigenous, Latino, and Black folk (as well as many other ethnicities and cultures that we racialize) for centuries! Driven by whiteness’ need to ensure castes exist for all of us, we consistently — through eras — see new inventions of classic American violence purported as a new thing instead of more of the same thing. This is an American thing.
Undoubtedly, there is a rise in anti-Asian hate crimes in America and I am glad attention is being raised. AND let’s be clear, and honest, that there’s a heritage of hate and violence that America holds within its blood-stained stripes, reinforcing hatred of its non-white citizens throughout history. This moment of reckoning is not a nativity for any of us. This is an American tradition — and this hatred is its heritage and habit.