Local Asian American group speaks on increased discrimination amid health pandemic

Alejandra Palacios
Updated: March 03, 2021 07:16 PM
Created: March 03, 2021 06:16 PM

Asians and Asian Americans are facing higher levels of discrimination since the COVID-19 health pandemic started. Many are experiencing hate crimes, harassment, and attacks, shedding even more light on the discrimination Asians have experienced prior to the pandemic. A local group of community members is trying to raise awareness and put a stop to this.

"There's a lot of this type of narrative that has kept coming up like the Asian gentleman who was pushed over and killed, the old lady who was sitting on the bus and she was attacked, people who are being attacked in their homes," said Belissa Ho, a Duluth community member.

"These things are not uncommon to happen but since the virus has been called the Wuhan virus or the Chinese virus, I think all of us have lived in an element of fear of just being different and sort of being the only ones. Especially in the Northland where we can be anywhere in the community and be the only person that looks like us," said Julie Kim, a Duluth community member.

The pandemic has highlighted the discrimination and hate crimes against the Asian community that has been around for generations. Since the pandemic though, it has heightened and has created even more fear among the Asian community.

"It has definitely put a spotlight on the aggressions and the microaggressions and the things that happen to Asians and Asian Americans in general. It has actually expanded the conversations with regards to the Asian American experience," said Ho.

"I really want to challenge people to look around them and to look how you want to build community. Look at your neighbors, how do you want to build community with the neighbors who live next to you," said Pakou Ly, a Duluth community member.

"We're not immigrants. Now we are a part of the American story. We are part of the American fabric, we are part of this tapestry that makes this country as strong as it is and as as great as it is," said Ho.

Kim, Ho and Ly are part of a local Asian women's group that has over 20 members.

"We started off as a small social group and it just expanded by word of mouth. We've sort of deepened the conversations about our own personal experiences as being Asian people in the Northland," said Kim.

They want to challenge people to listen, educate themselves, and work together to report and stop these hateful crimes.

"It's a matter of checking your bias and ensuring that you are not the aggressor and ensuring that you are not the aggressor based off of false information. You can also look into how to be an ally, how to approach conversations better and how to confront these types of things" said Ho.

The group has met with the City of Duluth to talk about these issues and wrote an open letter to the community in the Duluth News Tribune, saying people should not brush off these hateful actions and to be part of the solution.

"We have to be courageous and speak out about this because if we don't, who will? who will speak up for us?" said Ly.

Minnesota has a discrimination helpline you can call at 1-833-454-0148. You can also report this online or by calling the police at 911.


Alejandra Palacios

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