Monterey Park shows the anxieties behind the AAPI community


NY Times

January 21st, a day before the start of the Lunar New Year, Monterey Park was struck by a shooting that rattled the Asian American Pacific Islander community and left 11 dead; five men, six women, and nine injured. According to officials, the shooting happened around 10:22 p.m. local time at a Chinese-owned ballroom dance studio during a Lunar New Year celebration.

People were quick to believe that the shooting was a hate crime since Monterey Park is known to be a hub for Asian Americans. The officials, however, have now identified the shooter as Huu Can Tran, a Chinese immigrant, 72 years old, with a limited criminal history. Officials are still uncovering his motives but believe it was a crime committed against his ex-wife who he divorced… 

In recent years with the Coronavirus plaguing the health and hearts of Americans, it’s been hard for the AAPI community to recover from the realities they faced during such a scary time. 

According to NPR, over 9,000 cases had reported asian hate crimes since the beginning of the pandemic, from March 19, 2020, to August 19, 2021. When political figures, such as President Donald Trump, were getting on social platforms such as Twitter and accusing Asian Americans, especially Chinese Americans, of causing the COVID-19 outbreak by publicly commenting “You will never hear this on the Fake News concerning the China Virus…” in July 2020, this led to a lot of hatred towards Asian Americans. 

When there are shootings determined as hate crimes by federal officials such as the Dallas Koreatown shooting at a local hair salon that left three women of Asian descent dead in May 2020, where the shooter believed “Asian Americans were attempting to harm him” according to the official reports. This caused movements such as #StopAsianHate to quickly emerge on social media. 

All this news created severe trauma for the AAPI community that no one could’ve imagined coming. This is why in the past few years, AAPI month was taken very seriously for the AAPI community as they wanted to show one another that it’s important to be prideful in their identities despite all the horrific news. 

Seen in West Orange, Asian parents of the town came together to found the United Asian Voices of West Orange (UAV) in 2020 to combat Asian hate and bring awareness to the community. The UAV petitioned for Asian American curriculum in NJ by supporting Make Us Visible NJ, an organization that worked to get a bill signed by at least 10 state senators that required NJ K-12 curriculum to include AAPI history and contributions in social studies curricula. And they held an AAPI Celebration May 15, 2022 to celebrate the different Asian cultures through dance, song, poems, speeches, trivia games, and knowledge. 

Organizations like UAV show how Asian communities took action in response to the growing Asian hate across the U.S. Moving forward, it’s important that America works to implement more education on Asian American history and teach students to unlearn the biases rooted in ignorance. Hatred is powerful, but we can combat it with education to work to eliminate hate so we can live in a better world.