All US people are racists

After the Atlanta attack : "Anti-Asian racism should be a topic of the majority society"

Again people were killed for racist motives: Last Tuesday, a 21-year-old shooter stormed three massage studios in the Atlanta area and shot eight people. Six of them were women of Asian origin. The attack on people in three massage parlors in the USA is also fueling fear of increasing anti-Asian racism in Germany.

On the day of the attack, the American organization "Stop AAPI Hate" published a report according to which hate crimes against people of Asian descent in the US have increased in the past year. Almost 38,000 attacks were registered. Women were affected more than average.

But in Germany, too, data show an increase in attacks against people perceived as Asian - triggered by the corona crisis: The German study "Social Cohesion in Times of Crisis" reports a connection between increasing attacks and the corona crisis.

To this end, scientists, including those from the Humboldt University in Berlin, surveyed 700 people between July and December last year who are thought to be Asian because of their appearance. Many of them are German.

According to the study, 49 percent of respondents said that discrimination against them had increased. 62 percent of them would have experienced verbal attacks, eleven percent physical ones. The attacks took place on the street, in shops, in cafes and restaurants and at work.

The reason for this is media coverage of the pandemic, according to the study. The fact is that it is “often clichéd and stereotyped” and assigns blame.

Corona is worsening the situation

An employee of the Chinese restaurant "Ming Dynastie" in Berlin-Mitte, one of the best-known in Berlin, told Tagesspiegel that friends and acquaintances would repeatedly tell him about racist insults on the street Wearing mouth and nose protection was mandatory. However, he has not noticed any increased attacks against himself since Corona. He does not want to give his name.

But why is the pandemic increasing racism against people who read Asian? The first known case of the coronavirus was documented in Wuhan, China, from where the virus spread. But the virus is not a “Chinese virus”, as former US President Donald Trump has repeatedly emphasized.

[If you want to have all the latest developments on the coronavirus pandemic live on your mobile phone, we recommend our app, which you can download here for Apple and Android devices.]

Sars-CoV-2 is a biological-medical phenomenon, but it is often associated with China in the public perception. This fits into a historically grown, racist narrative, as the Federal Agency for Civic Education writes: “Since the 19th century, the 'yellow danger' has been linked to the emergence and spread of epidemics such as the plague, and more recently to infectious diseases such as Sars . ”

Official bodies: there is a lack of awareness of the problem

In addition, anti-Asian racism is not widely known as a problem in Germany. The Federal Anti-Discrimination Agency states that awareness of anti-Asian racism is "hardly developed in Germany so far" and reports to the Tagesspiegel:

"In Germany, especially in connection with the corona pandemic, there have been and still are attacks on the street, insults in the supermarket, refused doctor and apartment visits, discrimination at work, negative stereotypes in reporting and racist posts on social media."

Anti-Asian motives are also not specifically listed in the crime statistics. Upon request, the Federal Ministry of the Interior announced that these crimes would be registered as “politically motivated crime” under the subject areas “xenophobic”, “xenophobic” or “racism”.

"Continuity of murders also in Germany"

Thủy-Tiên Nguyễn is involved in the “korientation e.V.” network. She does not see anti-Asian racism as a problem in the USA, it is also a German problem: "In Germany, too, there is a continuity of murders of Asian and Asian-read people." She names the racially motivated arson attacks in Hamburg in 1980, Hoyerswerda in 1991 and Rostock-Lichtenhagen 1992.

[Every Thursday the most important developments from America straight to your mailbox - with the "Washington Weekly" newsletter from our USA correspondent Juliane Schäuble. You can register for free here.]

Thị Minh Huyền Nguyễn, co-founder of the platform, which arose at the beginning of the corona crisis, also criticizes the lack of awareness of the problem in Germany: "Anti-Asian racism in Germany should be the topic of the majority society." From the point of view of the two activists, German media reported late about the murders in Atlanta last week.

Another problem is that there has been too much speculation about the perpetrator's motive. On the day of the crime, the police initially ruled out racism as a motive. The spokesman for the relevant Police Department in Cherokee, Jay Baker, diagnosed the suspect sex addiction.

"Yesterday was a really bad day for him," he commented on the act. This statement caused anger and outrage among activists in the US and Germany. “Politicians, police officers and journalists should stop relativizing such attacks and try to attribute psychological motives to the perpetrators,” says Thủy-Tiên Nguyễn. "The murders are committed for racist motives."

When racism hits women especially

Sexism and racism are intertwined in this regard. “We women are fetishized and exoticized,” says Thị Minh Huyền Nguyễn. "This is the narrative of this submissive Asian woman." Political scientist Kimiko Suda confirms this impression. In particular, Asian-German, Asian and Asian-read women would experience discrimination.

“This narrative of the Asian submissive, over-sexualized and socially low-ranking woman can also be found in German crime series,” says Suda. The narratives on which this discrimination is based dates back to the 13th century, explains Suda.

“When European missionaries and merchants - including Marco Polo - traveled to Asia, they already described the women there as 'exotic' and 'submissive'. These clichés are currently still being reproduced in culture. "

And yet, Kimiko Suda is also a bit optimistic: Lately, more and more people in Germany have been fighting this kind of racism, especially on social media. "Something's going on." (Assistance: Patrick Volknant)

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page