Lewis Students Speak Out Against Anti-Asian Hate Crimes

Sophomore+Vivian+Nguyen+developed+a+sense+of+pride+for+her+Vietnamese+heritage+over+the+years+and+condemns+America%27s+anti-Asian+violence+recently+covered+in+the+news.

Courtesy of Vivian Nguyen

Sophomore Vivian Nguyen developed a sense of pride for her Vietnamese heritage over the years and condemns America’s anti-Asian violence recently covered in the news.

Nhi Pham, Staff Writer

The Asian American community has long faced ignorance and discrimination, but the Covid 19 pandemic is fueling a rise in Anti Asian violence. Just in this past year, the US has witnessed nearly 3,800 hate incidents towards the Asian American community. While these crimes saddened many people, the anti-Asian violence did not surprise anyone in the Asian American community, whether at Lewis High School, in Northern Virginia, or beyond.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, former president Donald Trump has blamed China for the outbreak in the US. The use of his term “China virus” and many other offensive phrases in public to describe the coronavirus has led to the growth of hate and anger against the Asian population.

On March 16, a mass shooting took place in Atlanta that captured the country’s attention as it took the lives of eight people in three spas–six of the victims were Asian. The murder came amid a wave of increase violence toward Asian American and has left anger and fear for many. The shooter, Robert Aaron Long, claimed that his motive wasn’t racism, yet it is not likely to be convincing because of the fact that it targeted three Asian-owned spas.

Following the shooting, an FCPS School Board meeting on March 18 focused on presenting resolutions to condemn anti-Asian racism and commit to action. FCPS released the following message regarding increased violence against the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders:

“We know that members of our FCPS community are experiencing increased fear and anxiety; we see you, we are in this together. We will continue to work within this community to address misinformation and xenophobic language that leads to aggression, harassment, and exclusion of our students, families, and colleagues from Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.”

Lewis sophomore Vivian Nguyen, whose family is from Vietnam, was not surprised to learn of the rise in anti-Asian violence this year. “I do not think it is new at all. It is just now (finally) being spoken up about,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen views her family as lucky because her parents did not face much racism or discrimination while living here in the U.S. “Or at the very least, they don’t tell me about it, probably so I don’t worry,” Nguyen said.

However, Nguyen acknowledges that she has experienced racism growing up–specifically when she attended an elementary school where she was one of the very few Asian students. “The food I brought to school was often made fun of because of the ‘smell,’ the way my features looked were always pointed out and mocked, and English being my second language made it difficult for other kids not to make fun of me for certain words or phrases I could not pronounce,” Nguyen said.

Nguyen is quick to point out the difference between what she experienced and what other Asian Americans have experienced. “Although my experiences with racism and discrimination cannot compare to what others may be going through, it did take me a while nonetheless to finally be proud of who I was in communities where it felt wrong to express my culture,” Nguyen said.

Junior Han Le is a student from Vietnam who moved to the U.S. two years ago and has been affected by racism since moving to the U.S.

A student took a friend’s AirPod and put it into the backpack of a Vietnamese student, who was then accused of stealing the AirPod. Le was friends with that Vietnamese student, so she was asked to speak with the administrator about this problem. What made Le so upset was that the student who did the prank didn’t get any significant discipline and people at the school didn’t take it seriously, like it was no big deal. 

“At that time, I was brave enough to speak up. My friend was slandered about stealing an AirPod in class. I don’t like the process; it was open-ended. No announcement, no telling what they did with it. I felt disappointed,” Le said.

Le also talked about how she’s been discriminated against when during the Covid-19 outbreak started, people began to stop talking to her and avoiding her, they believed that she had Covid because she’s Asian.

Le sees the discrimination that she and other Asian Americans face as part of a bigger problem. “Discrimination and violence towards the Asian community is not something new in the US anymore,” Le said.

Le’s thoughts concerning the mass shooting in Atlanta as well as other recent Anti-Asian hate crimes were negative even as she sought positive news. “[Americans] are fighting for BLM, for freedom, for justice, but they leave Asian Matters far behind. Equality claims for Asians are not of much concern. The government and people living in the US must do something! We stay in the US – We need justice! Stop Asian Hate!” Le said.

Nguyen views the mass shooting in Atlanta and other recent Anti-Asian hate crimes as “So devastating and disappointing, each and every crime that has been happening. It’s extremely disheartening to hear about and it also worries me about the safety of my family and the Asian community around me.”

Although there is a lot more to be done, the Asian community is at a turning point where the stories of people who suffer from Asian racism are finally covered widely in the media. The Asian community has faced the pain of fear and silence for decades and it must come to an end now.