We’ve all seen the huge protests against the new policing bill and in remembrance of Sarah Everard, but there is another issue I believe isn’t addressed enough and is often ignored in British society: Asian hate crime. Such crimes have surged and multiplied since the start of the pandemic, with little to no mention in the British public. Likely a result of an unwillingness to listen or change, there’s been constant invalidating of thoughts in Asian communities in the UK, leading us to keep our mouths shut.
I often find that the vast majority of these opinionated and racist remarks are a byproduct of a lack of education in many of the discussions surrounding Asian history and culture. Alongside this ignorance, however, there is always a group of significantly more violent individuals who feel the need to physically display their hate and distaste towards the Asian population. To those who this applies to, I ask you to consider this: many of these individuals left their countries and societies, often leaving behind their well-established names and ties, to start a new life from scratch in the UK. They hoped for and were promised a safe, positive and open-minded society, but what they got in return was an unrelenting state of fear and a designated slot in society which dictated them to be ‘second-class citizens’. This position is enabled and tolerated as a result of your ignorance and racism.
Too often we hear the stories of Asians being treated as if they don’t belong in society, whether it be from co-workers or on the streets. Many of the violent incidents are recorded by onlookers who wish to say silent, with reactions of shock and horror rippling throughout Asian communities across the globe. Many Asian voices are muted or silenced by others invalidating our thoughts even before they come out of our mouths, and all too often we just decide to clear our throats, accepting reality and staying silent, focusing instead on protecting ourselves and attempting to reduce interaction with the public to a minimum.
However, the hate towards Asian minorities I’ve personally experienced is often more subdued; many of the interactions I’ve had with other students and members of society often come with a racist undertone. I’ve heard from an Asian friend whose opinions were invalidated by the other group members in a module, simply as a result of their ignorance towards the topic. They made remarks such as “you don’t understand how British society works” and “these problems only exist where you’re from.” Personally, I see people pull up their masks whilst walking past me on a regular basis; they glance at me with a side-eye like I had done something wrong. Whilst these instances don’t stand out as bold examples of hate towards Asian communities, this is the reality of what Asian people in the UK have to live through on a daily basis, and it is a very undeserved and unwarranted way to treat other members of societies.
Another issue that will inevitably be difficult to address is the existence of racism between Asian minority groups. I’ve witnessed this first-hand. As China is the largest country in the world by population, many of the socio-political ideologies of students from different areas in China often clash, and there is an unwritten script of social interaction and boundaries between these groups, where very faint lines mustn’t be crossed.
The issue of racial segregation will always exist to some degree, however I feel that the University can take steps to reduce the societal divide, with a better defined strategy and better systems to report racism of all forms, so students are more comfortable in speaking up.
What I ask all to consider is simple and reasonable:
1. When talking with friends and family about Asian people and how they fit into Leeds society, please introduce them to the hardships and barriers the Asian community faces, and consider how hard they’ve worked and how much they’ve sacrificed.
2. If you see any form of Asian hate crime around you, please step in and try to keep everyone as safe as possible, as long as it’s safe to do so.
The Asian community calls for, and simply deserves, more compassion and understanding. Please.
Image via author.