We Are One


Katie Wang, Contributor '24

The United States has always been the dream country for many immigrants. Many have come to the US to seek the safety and freedom that their country refrained them from having. However, the US did not always live up to the ‘dream country’ title – the ‘American dream’, soon would become the ‘American nightmare’.

Since the start of the pandemic, the rise of Anti- Asian hate crimes has increased by almost 150%. In addition, according to NPR news, “American Pacific Islanders in the US reported nearly 3,800 instances of discrimination against Asians in the past year.”

Americans have witnessed these racist and xenophobic views by even the highest power in our government. For example, Donald Trump, our former president, has referred to COVID-19 – to both the press and to his supporters – as the “Kung- flu”, or “Chinese virus.” This has made many of his supporters believe that Asian Americans were responsible for the deaths of many Americans from COVID-19.

Asian American descents have been living in the United States for almost 160 years now and have long been targeted for bigotry. Here are some examples of the violence and racism Asian Americans have encountered throughout history.


People v. Hall

Chinese Americans began coming to the US in sufficient numbers in the 1850s, largely towards western states like California, where mining and railroad construction took place. These were very low-paying and dangerous jobs that immigrants were willing to fill. However, immediately the idea that “Asians are coming to steal white jobs” was born. This is when the California Supreme Court reinforced racism against Asian people in People v. Hall, which ruled that Asians could not testify against a white person in court, essentially granting white people the ability to commit Anti-Asian hate crimes and get away with it.


The Chinese Exclusion Act

When economic difficulties started to take place during 1870, it generated Anti-Asian crimes and scapegoating. In 1882, Congress passed the Chinese Exclusion Act, which banned Chinese immigration for 20 years. President Chester A. Arthur vetoed it at first, but then signed another version of this act with a 10-year ban. This ban was almost extended for 60 years before it was repealed in 1943.


Japanese Internment Camps During WWII

By the 1940s tens of thousands of Japanese immigrants had built a life in America. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and America’s move into WWII, the US government forced these Japanese immigrants into internment camps under the suspicion that they might aid the enemy in war. There were no spies found. Later, when they were freed from these camps, they came to find their homes to be vandalized or confiscated. In 1988, survivors received a presidential apology of $20,000 to make reparations.


Vietnamese Shrimpers

Many Vietnamese people resettled here in the US while fleeing communist Vietnam. In Texas, they decided to take up shrimping. As they began to work hard and later started to dominate the industry, the idea of Asians coming to take white jobs returned once again, which was also the time of the wearing of white hoods. This is where the leader of the Ku Klux Klan, Louis Beam, taught his followers commando-style attacks; they began to patrol the waters and set many boats owned by Vietnamese people on fire.


This list could continue to go on to include the murder of Vincent Chan, The L.A. riots, the 9/11 inspired hatred against Muslims, and more.

As I stated above, many immigrants come to this country to pursue their American dreams. My mother came to this country 20 years ago. She came here as an MBA student with a full scholarship. She mentioned that the first months were very tough because of the grad school’s homework and the work from her TA position. However, as a young Asian American during the time, she wasn’t seen as a stereotypical Asian American because she wasn’t quiet or shy. She was outspoken, active in a variety of student activities, always asked others to help correct her English, and laughed about the funny mistakes she made from mispronounced words. Because of her tough, funny, and outspoken nature, she didn’t really experience discrimination or hatred. The general experience she has taken as an Asian American is she believes that we should always stand our ground – be kind but assertive, be tough and resilient.

On March 15th, 2021, I experienced a great moment in history. I, as a youth leader, participated in a rally hosted by APAPA (Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs Association) in front of Cincinnati Freedom Center. Around 700 people came, of different races, of different ethnicities, and we all stood in solidarity against Anti-Asian hate! I remember that I stood side by side with my brother and listened to my mom’s speech. I felt so empowered, and I told myself that it was time to take charge for our future as a young Asian American!

Besides community and religious leaders’ speeches, many audience members came forward and shared their stories and feelings. Some stories were sad and devastating, while others were touching and heartwarming. It made us believe that the US is still a beautiful country, it is our country, that my parents didn’t make the wrong choice to come here, and we, young Asian Americans, are still very proud of being an American. All we need to do is work together and fix what is broken.

This rally not only demonstrated the power of Asian Americans, but it also showed that it was time to unite, not divide. As JFK once said, “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened.” Let’s embrace diversity and celebrate unity, it is exactly what makes America great!

I understand, it is just a beginning, we have a long way to go. Discrimination and racism won’t go away just because of a few rallies, it takes not just years, but generations. However, we have a start, and I am proud that I am part of this movement. I would like to help more Americans to see the API’s contribution to the country, as well as seeing more Americans show their appreciation for diversity. I would like everyone to be proud of who they are, we are all Americans, we are one, together we can make a big difference.