Story at a glance

  • Anti-Asian hate crimes have spiked in the last month following a surge of racist attacks since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Asian community and supporters are speaking out against the historical racism that perpetuates this violence.
  • In an essay for the Hollywood Reporter, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar argued that "Hollywood must do more to combat Asian stereotypes."

Hate crimes and racist violence rarely, if ever, come out of nowhere. So despite the support celebrities are lending the Asian American community after the most recent surge in hate crimes, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar says it's time for Hollywood to take responsibility for its own role in perpetuating racism. 

"The national pattern of violence is a symptom of a deeper malady, which is the degrading perception of Asian Americans by the non-AAPI community. This perception, which infantilizes women and emasculates men, creates an environment, both conscious and subconscious, that tacitly permits the persecution of those considered somehow less worthy of respect than whites," wrote the former basketball player and actor in an essay for the Hollywood Reporter


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Abdul-Jabbar spoke about his friendship with Bruce Lee, a martial artist and actor, who broke stereotypes of Asian men as "grateful, sexless servants." But progress, he says, has been “maddeningly slow.”

 

Abdul-Jabbar also spoke of the historic allyship between Black and Asian communities in the United States, noting that when traditional publishing houses turned down the book "Aiiieeeee! An Anthology of Asian-American Writers," the historically black Howard University published the book. 


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"Even then, both groups understood that unless every marginalized group was treated equally, no one would be," he wrote. 

Asian American representation in media has grown, Abdul-Jabbar acknowledged — although "the bar was pretty low to start with." This year Chloe Zhao became the first Asian female director to take home a Golden Globe with her film “Nomadland,” and films like “Minari” and "The Farewell" are centering Asian voices both on and off screen. Still, he warned against the tendency to "sit back and relax while congratulating itself." 

"Prejudice — and the hostility and violence that results — doesn’t sit back and relax. Those individuals who are intent on vile threats and committing hate crimes can’t be dissuaded by logic or appeals to morality because they have neither. What we can do is remove the implied approval and entitlement they feel from a society that they believe has their backs," wrote Abdul-Jabbar. 


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Published on Apr 07, 2021