March Hate Report: Tracking COVID-19 Related Hate

Map courtesy of Dr. Shireen Hyrapiet @hyrapiet

We are undoubtedly in the midst of several crises caused by the Covid-19 pandemic — one of these includes the Trump Administration blaming China for the crisis by calling Covid-19 the “Chinese virus.” Since SAALT’s last report published on March 3, the nation has seen a drastic and dangerous increase in hate violence and rhetoric that targets and affects East and Southeast Asian Americans, and those racialized as East or Southeast Asian.

Prior to this period, we observed a peak in hate violence brought on by President Trump’s election in 2016, when government officials spewed xenophobic falsehoods and declared entire communities as threats, ultimately leading to the Muslim Ban. Once again, we see an entire community framed as a threat, leading to the the widespread Covid-19 related discrimination we have seen in recent months. This Administration’s pattern of criminalizing communities of color and later codifying this racism in policy is why we are on high alert.

Through tracking and analyzing hate violence data over the last 5 years, we’ve found that xenophobic rhetoric and policies lead to greater violence against targeted communities. We believe that rather than focusing solely on individual perpetrators of violence, government officials must be held publicly accountable for their actions. That’s why, in the face of this unprecedented crisis, we have made a commitment to expanding our documentation of hate violence to include all members of the Asian American diaspora. We’re teaming up with our allies at OCA, National Council of Asian Pacific Americans, Chinese for Affirmative Action and Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council, who have collectively documented nearly 1,000 incidents of coronavirus-related hate violence and xenophobia across the country. This month’s report from SAALT shares our findings thus far, providing a snapshot of the hate violence targeting East and Southeast Asian Americans, and those racialized as East or Southeast Asian.

Since January 1, 2020, SAALT has tracked 45 incidents of hate violence targeting Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander individuals and communities:

There has also been an increase in the political weaponization of xenophobic rhetoric within the United States from American officials, including the President himself. SAALT has recorded 5 incidents of xenophobic and Islamophobic rhetoric since February 17th, 2020.

Since March 1st, 2020, SAALT has tracked 6 incidents of hate violence targeting Muslims and those racialized as Muslim:

​This uptick in violence is occurring against a backdrop of ongoing state violence impacting all communities of color in the U.S. Just as we saw post-9/11 — and again during and after the 2016 Presidential election — an increase in racist rhetoric and policies from government officials increases violence against our communities through forms of racial profiling, surveillance, detention, and mass incarceration. We must use this time to not only protect our communities from immediate harm, but also to fight against these systems and structures that sanction and perpetuate hate violence.

In the midst of this unprecedented moment, SAALT and our allies are working to examine our own hate reporting practices and assess how best to strengthen our communities’ ability to respond by building a more inclusive infrastructure. SAALT is committed to working with our partners to focus on how best to advocate for and support survivors of hate violence on their own terms.

Inclusive of the incidents in this monthly summary, SAALT and our partners have tracked 310 incidents of xenophobic or Islamophobic rhetoric, and 612 incidents of hate violence victimizing Muslims and Asian Americans, and those perceived as Muslim or Asian American, since 2015.

Support SAALT’s work to track and document hate.

A national social justice org working on policy analysis/advocacy on issues affecting the South Asian community: immigration, post 9/11 backlash.