Arlene Violet: Asian-American women - a sad target

By Arlene Violet
Posted 3/24/21

It is not surprising that attacks on Asian-Americans have escalated during the last 4 years. The steady cacophony of racist epithets emanating from the former president of the United States and some …

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Arlene Violet: Asian-American women - a sad target


It is not surprising that attacks on Asian-Americans have escalated during the last 4 years. The steady cacophony of racist epithets emanating from the former president of the United States and some republican legislators was bound to result in the deprecation of our brother and sister Americans. The prejudice is insidious.

On March 16 a report (AAPI) was released which documented that Asian women were 2.3 times as male Asians to be attacked. During the same week the data was punctuated by the killing of 6 Asian women in nearby Atlanta. The perpetrator was a 21 year old male who averred that he wasn’t racist but rather a sex addict who was merely trying to eliminate his temptation. Far be it from this white man to look inside himself for any failing, moral, mental or otherwise. He was perfectly content ridding the world of the “Jezebels”.

Asian-Americans have been unjustly persecuted. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 prohibited all immigration of Chinese laborers. Based on the earlier Page Act of 1875 which banned Chinese women from immigrating to the United States, the legislation was the first and only law to be implemented that prevented a certain ethnic group from entry into America until its repeal in 1943. Japanese American citizens were rounded up and interred during World War II. Forced relocation only ended in 1945 following a United States Supreme Court decision.
Fortunately, President Gerald Ford repealed the Executive order officially and Congress passed a modest reparations bill.

Yet, prejudice continues to abound. Following the slaying near Atlanta the white Sheriff opined that the alleged murderer was “having a bad day”. His Facebook account showed a photo of two T-shirts that said, ‘Covid 19 IMPORTED VIRUS FROM CHY-NA (sic)”. He hardy instills confidence that a fair investigation will be undertaken.
If anything has become obvious in 2021 it is the moral vacuum in this country as evidenced by the January 6 attack on the Capitol and this attack. There has been a collapse of moral leadership, whether it has been a reluctance of then-president Donald Trump to summon his followers to a shared national purpose of fighting the pandemic to a simple patriotism of wearing a mask or social distancing. Instead, he focused on attacking the very underpinning of democracy by spreading lies that the election had been stolen. His sycophants are now involved in some 25 states to undermine voting with legislation crafted on bogus grounds in order to prevent minorities, particularly black Americans, from voting.

Feminism has also suffered a massive blow. Even discussions about the loss of opportunity for women during COVID focused on white women professionals who lost accumulating wealth. Nary a word was uttered about house cleaners who haven’t worked or waitresses or hairdressers for whom the pandemic has been an earning disaster. Instead, professional women clambered for vaccination before women truly on the front line of exposure. White women have to wake up and defend their less-affluent sisters.

Will this country ever find its way back to a shared reality or will a lack of moral imagination remain a national-security threat? Toxic fantasies seem to continue unabated. “Me first” continues as the mantra. This narrative has to change or…?

Arlene Violet is an attorney and former Rhode Island Attorney General.

Arlene Violet

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