The Independent joins those in the Tri-Valley and throughout the nation who are denouncing the violence the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community has experienced. While events over the last year have highlighted the civil rights conversation, it’s important to acknowledge that racism against AAPI is not new.
The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 was one of the first laws restricting immigration to the U.S.; it suspended immigration for 10 years. The act was designed to maintain white “racial purity” within the workforce, particularly in California. White miners acted violently toward the new arrivals who were looking for work, following a crop failure in China.
On Feb. 19, 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt signed the infamous executive order that sent anyone of Japanese descent into internment camps — even those who were naturalized citizens, second- or third-generation Americans. California farmer Tom Nakashima, born in a rural town in Merced County, recalled his experience of being shipped by train to the internment camps. Like many, he was treated like an enemy in his own home. His testimony aired during a documentary called “Concrete California.” (To watch the film, visit bit.ly/Indy_ConcreteCa.)
Even more recently, a 2008 study by Carriane Leung chronicled the everyday racism faced by Asian health care workers following the SARS crisis.
And now in 2021, we’ve seen a 149% increase in attacks against Asians over the last year. History matters — it adds context to the conversations we’re having to this day. We as a nation with diverse communities must realize that there will only be room for healing if we are able to recognize the harm we have done.
In addition to resolutions denouncing hate crimes against Asians, The Independent hopes to see more resources made available for the AAPI community within the cities of the Tri-Valley. We need to develop the tools to protect and empower our residents — all of them. We need to continue educating the next generation on why hate has no place in civilized society.