Fayetteville’s Asian American community tackles American attacks

As awareness of anti-Asian hate grows, members of North Carolina’s Asian communities seek to increase the visibility of their voices and needs.

There has been an increase in attacks on Asian Americans recently, including the fatal shooting of Asian women at three different spas in the Atlanta area.

Mario Benevente, a member of the Korean community in Fayetteville, said there were inaccurate perceptions of Asian Americans before the pandemic. One such myth describes the group as a “model minority” that does not complain about prejudice because its members are successful, he said.

“I think more and more with what we’ve seen over time that COVID really started to happen and the name they kind of called it, and then definitely, with the latest hyper-violent stuff happening. are produced in Atlanta, and elsewhere in California, it’s all part of the same kind of ugliness, everything comes from the same place “,

National and state organizations are trying to prevent attacks and raise awareness of anti-Asian hatred. Stop AAPI Hate began as a reporting center to track and analyze hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In North Carolina, an organization called North Carolina Asian Americans Together aims for a socially aware and informed society that incorporates greater participation and representation of Asian Americans.

The state group started in 2016 due to lack of space for the Pan-Asian community to together build a movement and community, according to Ricky Leung, its senior director of programs.

“Asian American is a very broad umbrella term; there are very diverse communities within this umbrella with very specific needs and also common struggles,” Leung said. “The effort we are trying to launch is to bring our diverse communities together to work for collective liberation and amplify each other’s needs and stories.”

According to Leung, Stop AAPI Hate and NCAAT used their portals to record about 30 racist incidents against Asian Americans in North Carolina.

Benevente, who is a member of the Korean Presbyterian Church, said anti-Asian hatred has been simmering for some time now since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic.

Benevente said he found the language of Fayetteville City Council member Johnny Dawkins offensive when he called COVID-19 the “Wuhan flu”.

“This is something that has not gone unnoticed,” Benevente said. “For me that’s kind of where it all starts, and then I think it’s kind of where Asian Americans are maybe just seen as easy targets.”

Dawkins referred to COVID-19 in an email to Fayetteville Mayor Mitch Colvin. Now Dawkins is referring to the origin of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.

Other COVID-19 coverage:Fayetteville City Councilor Dawkins calls on mayor to end coronavirus curfew

“It is a fact that the earliest known origins of the coronavirus came from the wet markets in Wuhan, China,” Dawkins said. “Then the story changed to say it came from the Wuhan lab. Whether it was an accident, the virus escaped from the wet market or the Wuhan lab or if it was on purpose, it emanated from Wuhan. . ”

The NCAAT released a statement on the attacks in Georgia last week, saying prejudice against the Asian community is not new. The violence is not just interpersonal, but systemic, he said.

“Now our community is forced to deal with the rise in anti-Asian violence as we suffer the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement read. “We know that this pandemic has disproportionately harmed our communities and other communities of color. The discrimination and violence our communities face is rooted in our experiences and in the history of white supremacy, of misogyny, of the model myth of minority and racism. “

Looking ahead, Benevente said he believes it is important in the Asian community to speak up and be heard.

“I guess it’s kind of a two-way street, like it’s up to us to do more to talk and raise awareness of the issues in our community, and it’s also our hope that people will come and pick us up. seriously, just stay tuned and really hear our voice when we speak, “he said.

Editor-in-chief Akira Kyles can be reached at [email protected]

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