The March 1st broadcast of the Brian Lehrer Show featured Arun Venugopal, a senior reporter for WNYC’s Race & Justice Unit. Together, Brian and Arun discussed the alarming rise in anti-Asian violence since the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Brian opened the show by citing statistics from AABANY and Paul, Weiss’ co-authored report: A Rising Tide of Hate and Violence against Asian Americans in New York During COVID-19: Impact, Causes, Solutions. According to the report, there have been more than 2,500 anti-Asian hate incidents nationwide between March and September of 2020. Drawing on another finding of the AABANY report, Arun noted that targeted attacks are particularly commonplace in New York, where Asians are more at risk of physical assault, verbal harassment, and being coughed and spat on. Arun proceeded to draw awareness to a number of local hate incidents, the most recent among them being the stabbing of an Asian American man in Chinatown last Thursday. Citing the opinion of Chris Kwok, AABANY board director and co-executive editor of AABANY’s report, Arun noted that such attacks may be motivated by the stereotype that Asians are “soft targets” who will not fight back. Expanding on this notion, Arun stated that Asians must be seen as part of broader communities that will fight back.
In the remainder of the show, listeners from the Asian American community called in to voice their own experiences as victims of the “soft target” stereotype and express a similar desire for intersectional coalitions. While debates continue over how such coalitions may best be built, Arun pointed out that we all have a role to play in the here and now. By reporting bias incidents to groups like Stop AAPI Hate and the Asian American Federation, whose work is also discussed in the AABANY report, we can ensure that the issue of anti-Asian violence remains at the top of the nation’s political agenda.
To listen to this episode of the Brian Lehrer Show in its entirety, click here.