The first cases of the coronavirus struck in Wuhan, China in December 2019. It was around this time last year when the coronavirus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization. Since then, hate crimes targeting Asians have increased. In Texas last year, an Asian-American father and his two sons were stabbed by Jose Gomez III according to Dallas News. Gomez’s reasoning was: “He thought the family was Chinese and infecting people with the coronavirus.”
“I remember during the beginning of the pandemic people would make insensitive jokes about all Asian people having the coronavirus,” said co-vice president of the Asian Student Union at Point Loma Nazarene University, Dannielle Orteza. “It was extremely disheartening to see the hate crimes toward the Asian community on social media and the news.”
The numerous videos of those in the Asian community being verbally or physically attacked are shared easily and quickly due to modern technology, causing Orteza’s parents to be wary and careful.
Treasurer of ASU and junior nursing major, Matthew Castelo, explained that elders in Asian cultures are highly respected and revered. This makes videos such as 84-year-old Vicha Ratanapakdee’s difficult to watch as a male runs up behind the senior strolling through his neighborhood and pushes him violently to the ground. Ratanapadkee died two days later in the hospital. Castelo described watching the video like feeling punched in the face.
On Jan. 26, President Joe Biden signed an executive action to condemn and combat racism, xenophobia and intolerance against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. It was actions harming the Asian community that captured the president’s attention, leading to the executive order. Members of ASU agree this is a positive step in protecting fellow Asian Americans. However, one person denouncing Asian discrimination isn’t going to solve everything, said ASU Secretary and sophomore nursing major, Jasmyne Kon.
“It will take each individual to proactively change their mindset and take initiative to educate themselves about these topics,” Kon said.
PLNU President Bob Brower has stated the school will not condone or tolerate racism and xenophobia harming those who identify as Asian or Pacific Islander. For PLNU to fight these issues, members of ASU agree that conversing on these topics with those it affects is the best chance to better the community. ASU President Ivy Tran applauded Brower for addressing this issue. The senior nursing student said, “Faculty and students should not let the media influence them and rather educate themselves about the issues and find resources on how they can help support the matters.”
Discimination against Asians in the U.S. goes further than this past year. For ASU public relations officer and junior applied health science major, Jamie Valerio, the pain can be traced to dark times in U.S. history, such as when Japanese-Americans were placed in internment camps during WWII. As society enters a new era, there are feelings of hope regarding how Americans are combating racism.
“I see the younger generations and ours strengthening their voice and paving new ways to stand up [to] racism in America,” said Gem Bardiago, junior nursing major and co- vice president of ASU. “I’ve seen the power of us coming together as one on social media platforms and spreading awareness on issues that are important to us.”
PLNU students and faculty who want to get involved are encouraged to attend MOSAIC and the Center for Justice & Reconciliation events to fight racial indifferences present on campus. Valerio said, “This is a battle that requires cooperation and open ears on both sides.”
By: Kylie Miller