Rep. Andy Kim on Asian hate: 'I've never felt this level of fear'

Rep. Andy Kim on Asian hate: 'I've never felt this level of fear'
© Aaron Schwartz

Amid a rash of violent incidents aimed at Asian Americans, Rep. Andy Kim (D-N.J.) on Tuesday spoke about the racism and xenophobia his family has personally experienced and said he has “never felt this level of fear” before in his life.

“This is a historic moment right now in the AAPI community in America,” Kim, the son of Korean immigrants, said referring to Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders during a news conference in the Capitol. “There has never been a situation during my lifetime that I've felt this level of fear, and this level of vulnerability, and also the level of isolation that I do right now.”

Since the shootings in the Atlanta area a month ago that killed six Asian women and two others, Kim said he’s “shared stories I've never shared before and opened up in ways that I never have before: about racism and discrimination against Asian Americans."


He spoke about how as a diplomat in the State Department, he was forbidden to work on issues related to Korea “because I’m Korean American,” and how his 5-year-old son came home from school one day upset that another kid was calling him “Chinese boy, Chinese boy over and over again.”   

“This issue of foreignness and xenophobia has been with us. And I fear that actually it could get worse as we know that our global competition with China is growing,” Kim said. “We, right now at this moment, need to think about as a nation how it is that we will embrace and talk about, and incorporate the AAPI community in our nation. That's what this moment is." 

“I really do believe that the next few weeks will determine the next few decades of how Asian Americans are treated and understood and accepted in this country,” he added. “And that is the period in which my kids will be growing up into their adulthood.” 

Kim’s comments came during a news conference in which Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' Biden to meet with GOP senators amid infrastructure push The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Emergent BioSolutions - Upbeat jobs data, relaxed COVID-19 restrictions offer rosier US picture MORE (D-N.Y.) and Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiSanders: Reinstating SALT deduction 'sends a terrible, terrible message' McCarthy says he supports Stefanik for House GOP conference chair Ode to Mother's Day MORE (D-Calif.) rallied with Asian American lawmakers to pass anti-Asian hate crimes legislation in the Senate this week. 

The bill, authored by Sen. Mazie HironoMazie Keiko HironoIf you want Julie Su at the DOL, don't point to her resume Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap Senate tries to shake off graveyard status MORE (D-Hawaii), would require the Justice Department to designate an official to review coronavirus-related hate crimes, beef up state and local resources and examine "best practices to mitigate racially discriminatory language" describing the coronavirus pandemic.


Hirono herself described how she’s changed some of her behavior given the spike in hate incidents against Asian Americans in the year since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

“As an AAPI person, it does give me pause. Before, if I was walking around outside I would have my earbuds on and I'd be listening to books on tape,” Hirono said. “I would never do that now because of the incidents of totally unprovoked hate crimes against AAPIs.” 

Jordain Carney contributed.