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Asian Americans have always faced hate. The pandemic amplified it

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While hatred increased last year, it is also inspiring some Asian Americans to stop shutting up and talk about their experiences. Here are some of his stories.

CNN only uses company names for their safety and to prevent them from suffering retribution in their communities.

A man tried to rip off his mask

Jae, a cardiologist, received one of her vaccines against the Covid-19 vaccine.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Jae said a man got in his face and tried to rip his mask off in the middle of a grocery store.

“I was confronted by a man who was very upset to be there, telling me that I brought the China virus into this community and that I should leave,” the 43-year-old Oregon cardiologist said. “He tried to rip off my mask. It was very scary and I just had to leave.”

He called it ab * tch, but what was worse, Jae said, is that he also called it a racial insurrection for the Chinese.

“I’m not even Chinese. I’m Korean, for God’s sake, you know? My first reaction is to try to make him understand that this is absolutely false,” he said. “My last thought was that this was becoming dangerous. I think … I can hurt myself physically.”

Jae, shocked, went home and told her husband what happened that day in the spring of 2020. She never reported the incident and stopped going to the store at night: she tried not to go out. at night, except when they needed her in the hospital, she said.

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Last year, Jae began to notice that he now also avoids crowds, especially in the wake of attacks and violence against Asian Americans.

Jae said she was hurt and scared by what happened, especially because she is part of this community. Patients stop her on the streets and people recognize her in her city, which is less than 100,000 people, he said.

Jae said he expects people to start seeing Asian Americans as part of the communities where they live.

“I think the violence happens because you see these people as other people, other people causing harm, other people who hurt me, other people who carried this virus,” he said. “All of this is misinformation where people are considered to be others.”

He wishes he had said something earlier to defend other minority groups facing racism.

“I would like to talk first about all violence against minorities, like when the Black Lives Matter movement happened, when there were people, other minorities facing racism and violence,” he said.

A woman told him to return to his country

Ian says he is often the target of racial insults.
Seeing the faces of the victims the spa shots in the Atlanta area made Ian feel horrible, he said. He did not know any of the victims, six of whom were Asian women, but they felt familiar.

“It’s very difficult to describe this feeling of grief, even if it’s people you’ve never met or never heard of or had contact with,” the 24-year-old writer said. “Psychologically, it makes a lot of sense for you to hear about people being shot dead for their looks, because they look like my grandmother, because they look like my mother.”

The New York resident emigrated to America from Mexico when he was 7 years old. Born to a Chinese mother and a Mexican-Japanese father, Ian said he is used to being called racial insults.

Dealing with ignorance and racism is not new to him. But last year, he said he believes people who say anti-Asian things feel more empowered.

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“I think that has always existed,” he said. “But this past year, I think people have had more power to be more public about it … to be very publicly anti-Asian and to get the support they feel they want behind them.”

Ian was leaving a store with a friend when a woman started following them and yelling in April 2020. A feeling of sinking hurt her stomach. He heard her direct his anger at him, he said.

“As someone who is very much in tune with saying racial insults … you only feel it when someone speaks to you with that tone of voice,” he said. “I tuned in and heard her say, ‘Oh, you like a disgusting, dog-eating bastard, come back to China, you’re so dirty.’

He asked his friend if he heard what the woman was saying. His friend didn’t realize what had just happened, which Ian said made him feel lonely.

“As someone who has experienced things like this in the past, you are constantly on alert and you detect things like that. While my friend who is white, didn’t really know what was going on,” she said. “I felt something traumatic was going on, that I couldn’t process at all.”

Ian said he feels objective just for his looks.

“There is no desire to see me as a person. There is no desire to know me,” he said. “It’s purely ‘I’ve decided who you are and I hate you for it.’ And for me that’s where racism is.”

Customers threw her masks at her

Brittany is her item on her Japanese street food truck.

Food truck co-owner and chef Brittany closed her business twice during the pandemic. The first time was because business was slow; the second time was because he feared for his safety.

Brittany was working alone on her Japanese food truck in July 2020, when two customers started throwing insults and even throwing things at the truck, she said.

“I brought in a couple of clients and they basically just took the masks off my face and threw them out the window,” he said. “They told me,‘ Go back to China. Why did you come here? Stop eating bats “.

The 32-year-old of Japanese and Mexican descent feared for her safety. She said the customers were loud, they swore at her and yelled at her, and she was in a dark place in the evening, alone.

“(I) would just have to worry more about if something would happen, if they would try to break in and hurt me or take my money,” he said.

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Brittany closed the store from July to September 2020, shaken by the incident. His business was a great economic success, but he did it for peace of mind, he said. He lives in an open city and said he cares about armed bullies.

“I actually have a gun in the truck now under the registration area or anywhere near me just in case … because I have no idea what’s going to happen,” he said.

Brittany, who opened her food truck in July 2019, said she never heard any racist comments directed at her.

But racist and xenophobic comments “increased last year with Covid’s stuff,” he said.

Business has improved and so have customers, occasionally making jokes about whether they serve bats and asking him not to cough up food, he said.

A car prevented her from leaving the parking lot

Lucy is a proud immigrant who encourages other Asian Americans to speak up.

Ever since the 1960s Lucy moved to the United States from her native Thailand, she vowed to be active and involved as a citizen.

The 65-year-old Frank was in the Nevada caucus. He also attends political demonstrations and acts in his community.

But when he is targeted by racist comments, he does not feel it is safe to defend his aggressors.

Lucy was using her truck to get to her car when someone in a large SUV nearly ran over her, she said. When she loaded her groceries into the car, she noticed that the vehicle was locking her in her disabled seat.

“I went out and he stared at me and I said, ‘If you can just go back, I could go,'” he said. “He said, ‘Well, do you think I’m stupid?'”

The man named her and shouted at her. “” You are effective ***. “You know, the usual Asian names that always tell us,” he said.

Some people in the parking lot got out of their cars and came to their defense. Some people came and stayed next to the car with her and a black man leaned on the trunk and called the police, he said.

Eventually, the man quickly withdrew and Lucy left the parking lot.

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“I just went home and I ventured out with my kids, so I didn’t say anything, I didn’t call the police, nothing,” he said. “That’s the problem is we go home and … we never say anything.”

Although the pandemic has been tough and she has experienced incidents like this, Lucy said wearing a mask has an unwanted benefit.

“Wearing a mask hides many of my Asian features and people just don’t know what I am these days,” he said. “It’s good to be anonymous from time to time.”

Don’t let that fool you. Lucy is proud of her legacy; she is just tired of getting hurt and blaming herself for the virus.

“I want everyone to know that we are not responsible for the virus, in America we are not responsible for it,” he said. “I want everyone to participate. Don’t shut up and get vaccinated.”

She encourages other Asian Americans to talk and say what they mean.

“We’re all proud to be Asian Americans,” he said. “We are peaceful people, we forgive, but we also hurt.”

CNN’s Mackenzie Happe and Jeff Kopp contributed to this report.

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