“Perpetual other”

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya (The Freeman) - March 25, 2021 - 12:00am

I'm sad to admit that images of wrongful killings and unprovoked violence captured on camera have always served as a catalyst for people to think about the racism and hatred that exists in our midst. This is especially in the Asia-Pacific region, which is massive, diverse, and complex.

The killing of eight people, including six Asian women, at three spa and massage establishments in the metro Atlanta area of the United States state of Georgia this week may well be the latest example of such violence.

Whether or not these killings are officially labeled as "hate crimes," they are inextricably linked to a long history of stereotyping of Asians, especially Asian women, in the United States.

Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia also have seen how stereotypes and different treatment of migrant workers have intertwined in their own evolving responses to COVID-19.

When COVID-19 first became a household word a year ago, then-US President Donald Trump called it the "China virus" and "China's fault." Not only has the virus been dubbed different derogatory terms since then, but there has also been an increase in racially motivated cases in the west—and online.

Hate crime seems to have increased since the start of the pandemic, but the reason for this is unknown. COVID-19 is thought to have arisen in China, according to others.

Many victims, particularly the elderly, are being attacked in supermarkets and on the street. Heartbreaking videos are circling on social media showing elderly Asian victims sobbing after experiencing vicious hate crimes.

When it comes to seeing actual systemic and societal change, a few key things need to happen. First and foremost, education. There’s so much that we’ve got to do and it starts with education. In the interim, it is about informing the public on how they can intervene as a bystander when it comes to racially-motivated incidents.

Let us use the internet not only as a resource to enlighten, but to listen, support and amplify others who are sharing their experiences right now.

It’s important to recognize that they are not alone, this is not okay, and it’s not something we have to put up with as a person of color or as a woman, adding that a key learning lesson for has been to always speak up. We should be angry; we should be able to express our hurt and grief.

Racism is never an acceptable response. However, we are mindful of this, which does not mean that change can take place. We believe it is now time to put our knowledge to use. To use our platforms to condemn racial hatred, to stand in solidarity with those who are being oppressed, and to demand change loudly. We'll continue to apply pressure and advocate for change until it happens.

Hate can breed violence when people are stereotyped and "humanized." This includes not only verbal and physical abuse directed at new immigrants or migrant workers, but also abuse directed at ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities who are now seen as the "perpetual other," regardless of how many generations their families have lived in the country.

It's past time to stop looking down on people of various races, religions, and genders. The practice of treating a community as "the perpetual other" must end.

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