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Wilson Center on Racialized Violence Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

We were shocked and saddened by the mass shootings that occurred in Atlanta this week, which targeted women of Asian descent. This is sadly only the latest of a rising trend of discrimination and racialized violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders over the past year. Unfortunately, this prejudice has deep roots in American history and reflects dark periods of our history that must be learned from and never repeated.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to an undeniable surge in violence and discrimination against people of Asian descent across the United States. According to the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University San Bernardino, hate crimes against Asian Americans in America’s 16 largest cities increased by nearly 150 percent in 2020, with the first spike occurring in March and April.

The struggles and experiences of Asian Americans today reflect the struggles that people of Asian descent have experienced throughout much of American history, including the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and Executive Order 9066 signed by President Roosevelt in 1942, which led to the forced internment of about 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry, 62 percent of whom were US citizens.

Yet despite this history and the ongoing experiences of Asian Americans, they are too often deterred from speaking up, voicing their concerns and asserting their rights. The Wilson Center stands by our colleagues, our neighbors, our friends, and all members of the Asian-American community. We are committed to fighting against the hatred, violence and discrimination directed toward Asian Americans across the country.