A recent piece by NBC Asian America reporter Kimmy Yam has readers divided for how it framed the recent attacks Asians are facing in the U.S.
Hate or No Hate: In the NBC article “Violence against Asian Americans and why 'hate crime' should be used carefully,” Yam posits that social media and some sources often attach “hate crimes” to violence against the Asian community in general.
She highlighted while the recent crimes have attracted widespread media coverage and outcry from activists, authorities have yet to classify them as racially motivated.
She further notes: “The figure they refer to specifically reflects New York City and New York police data obtained by NBC Asian America, which showed three anti-Asian hate crimes in 2019 and 28 last year. No hate crimes were reported this year so far.”
According to Yam, the 2,800 hate incidents collected by watchdog Stop AAPI Hate over five months last year “weren't necessarily hate crimes” as they included “less severe, yet insidious, forms of discrimination.”
Citing experts, the piece acknowledged the rise in “anti-Asian sentiment during the COVID-19 pandemic but warns against labeling incidents without evaluating individually.
The piece further calls for “a fair, rather than a public, trial no matter what race they may be,” while putting emphasis on cases on “suspects are of color in the context of a justice system that hasn't been proven to be colorblind.”
Backlash: Some social media users have been expressing their disappointment over the article for the way it handled an otherwise well-meaning message.
On Instagram, some users found the post both hurtful and harmful, claiming it gaslights and denies the current crisis the Asian community faces.
Other comments pointed out how it would be a better discussion why authorities are investigating these cases as “assaults” rather than “hate crimes.”
An Instagram post by AAJIL (Asian American Justice Innovation Lab), founder Sandy Sohee Kim recognizes the “well-meaning” intention of the article to give everyone a fair trial but points out how it failed to address “the experiences of the individuals and communities who have been harmed,” and that “the criminal justice system is not how we keep us safe.”
Kim’s post further highlighted the piece’s problems: “It seems to assume that the only possible positions are 1) you are perpetuating anti-Black stereotypes by "assuming" these are racially motivated crimes or 2) you fight anti-Blackness by not assuming these are racially motivated crimes.”
She also argued that when an Asian is attacked for being perceived as easy or lucrative targets, that makes it more reason not to discount "racial animus."
NextShark reached out to Yam for comment over the reception of her piece who reiterated the conversation and common goal her piece had hoped to push further:
"Since the very first day we began covering pandemic-related racism in January of 2020, deeply reported stories on hate incidents or hate crimes have been a top priority for us. We've stayed committed to reporting the facts, including police stats, context around numbers, differences between a hate/bias incident and a hate crime and cultural context. Experts have told us this is important to distinguish because trials for suspects -- some of whom are also people of color -- can be impacted by mislabeled public information. The response to the recent incidents is a sign that people are engaged. Many are angry and their pain and frustration is valid. What we shouldn't lose sight of is how, as experts say, the Asian American community will only be truly safe if we get to the actual root cause of the violence."
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