The History of Hatred Towards AAPIs in America

Asian Americans have dealt with hatred from their first day in America.

The Asian American story can be traced back to the early 1600s when Indians were brought to America as indentured servants and, in some cases, as slaves. Just like their black brothers and sisters, they were brought as tools to enrich a new world where they would have no say and have no rights.

Chinese workers started coming to America in the 1800s in search of a better life for themselves and their families. Instead they found the ugliness that is American racism and were met with discrimination by white folks and other POCs.

It wasn’t just the everyday man that made life Hell for AAPIs but also the American legal system:

  • People v. Hall in 1854 stated that a Chinese man’s testimony was inadmissible against a white man’s testimony because the Chinese were a “race of people whom nature has marked inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point.” Truly disgusting rhetoric.
  • United States v. Singh in 1923 stripped Mr. Singh and 64 other Indians of their citizenship. One of the men, Mr. Bagai, killed himself after the verdict. In his suicide note he wrote:

I came to America thinking, dreaming and hoping to make this land my home. Sold my properties and brought more than twenty-five thousand dollars (gold) to this country, established myself and tried my very best to give my children the best American education.

In year 1921 the Federal court at San Francisco accepted me as a naturalized citizen of the United States and issued to my name the final certificate, giving therein the name and description of my wife and three sons. In last 12 or 13 years we all made ourselves as much Americanized as possible.

But they now come to me and say, I am no longer an American citizen. They will not permit me to buy my home and, lo, they even shall not issue me a passport to go back to India. Now what am I? What have I made of myself and my children? We cannot exercise our rights, we cannot leave this country. Humility and insults, who is responsible for all this? Myself and American government.

I do not choose to live the life of an interned person; yes, I am in a free country and can move about where and when I wish inside the country. Is life worth living in a gilded cage? Obstacles this way, blockades that way, and the bridges burnt behind.

  • After the events of Pearl Harbor, we saw a spike in Anti- Japanese sentiment. In Korematsu v. United States, we saw the courts uphold the interment of Japanese Americans. One of many disgusting scars in America’s history.

Recently, there has been a spike in AAPI hate crimes in the United States. According to Stop AAPI Hate, which includes a self-reporting tool for harassment, discrimination and violent attacks, recorded 3,795 incidents of anti-Asian discrimination across the U.S. from its inception on March 19 to Feb. 28, 2021, according to data released Tuesday before the Georgia shootings.

We must always remember those individuals who were savagely killed last night but not forget that the murder spree last night was not the first time that Asian Americans have been killed by hateful individuals. We must do all we can to speak out against hate, no matter who it is directed towards, and continue to uplift and watch all our communities.