Media Watch Race The World Inequality

It’s time we recognize the media’s role in perpetuating Asian hate

The Tempest Exclusive series Media Watch investigates and introspects on the intricacies of free speech around the world, right from The Tempest newsroom. 

It took another tragedy for Black Lives Matter to become mainstream, and the #StopAsianHate movement is no different. Despite the skyrocketing numbers of Asian-targeted attacks across the United States last year – there were 3,800 incidents – recognition that the Asian community is being targeted is only now landing headlines and receiving nightly news segments. 

Perhaps this coverage is too little, too late.

Of course, the Asian-targeted shootings in Georgia on Tuesday, March 16 deserved mass media coverage. But what about the 3,800 biased crimes Asian Americans had to endure in 2020? Those deserved just as much awareness and attention, but there are so many victims out there who have been ignored. 

This has been going on for too long. In February, a Chinese man was walking home in Manhattan’s Chinatown when someone sprang up from out of nowhere and stabbed him in the back. The victim, whose name has not been released, was in the hospital for more than two weeks before being discharged on Sunday, March 14. 

How has this perpetual fear affected the lives of Asian Americans daily? How have Asian-run businesses uniquely suffered because of COVID-blaming and the implications behind the term “Chinese Virus”? 

Asian Americans have faced a long history of discrimination in this country. From “yellow peril” to the myth of the model minority, racism is nothing new to them. The first wave of immigrants from Asia, particularly from China, faced brutal discrimination in America in almost every aspect of society. This culminated in the infamous Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, which not only prohibited Chinese immigrants from entering the country but also forbade Chinese Americans from returning after visiting family still in the homeland. The “racial purity” desired by the government didn’t allow this act to be officially repealed until 1943, but Asian Americans had to endure even more government intervention on their rights before then. The Alien Land Laws prevented non-citizens from owning land, which particularly targeted Asian Americans since they were prohibited from earning their citizenship altogether.

 From entertainment to politics, recognizable Asian groups like BTS and Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC) have spoken out about #StopAsianHate, but stereotypes persist. 

Plus, the lack of media coverage naming events like these as hate crimes and holding people accountable has allowed for such horrific events to persevere. I can’t help but wonder that if the news media had appropriately covered these events, would there be as much Asian hate today? Identifying these attacks as hate crimes could contribute to people understanding this as a major problem in America. 

The media has had a major hand in sensationalizing the hardships Asian communities have faced, as many people blamed Chinese Americans for the COVID-19 pandemic, including news outlets themselves. French newspaper Le Courrier gained notoriety when they published a January 26 article with the headline “Yellow Alert”. Even when the media seems to be trying to help the situation, sensationalism and ratings are always their priority. With the constant coverage of COVID-19 and the debate on whether or not the virus was released from a lab in Wuhan, China, sensationalism has only strengthened the racist fear of Asians. 

It didn’t help that former President Donald Trump had branded COVID-19 with terms like the “Chinese Virus” and “Kung-Flu”. His viscious rhetoric encouraged many people  to believed that Asian Americans spread the virus and therefore deserved hate, ridicule, and violence. 

It wasn’t until eight women were killed, six of them Asian, that the media started to address #StopAsianHate instead of the “Chinese Virus”. While many news outlets have condemned former President Donald Trump’s use of the phrase, the nonstop coverage of its political incorrectness has rooted itself in people’s heads–in a drastically negative way. After Robert Aaron Long, 21, open-fired on three Asian-owned massage parlors across the Atlanta, GA area, he told Cherokee County authorities that he had a sexual addiction and by murdering the targeted victims, he was eliminating his “temptation”. Considering that this is not the first case of Asian-targeted violence in America, many have analyzed this alleged motivation. 

“We’re perpetually foreigners, and that idea plays out with women as being oversexualized,” said Helen Kim Ho, founder of the Atlanta chapter of Asian Americans Advancing Justice in an article from The Washington Post. “All of that had to have played out in this man’s own mind. In addition to the unspoken notion that Asian people are easy targets.” 

On the topic of perpetuating fear/hatred toward the Asian American community through sensationalism, John C Yang, president and executive director of AAJC, directly addressed the media’s role in all of this. “The media has a responsibility to […] lift up the stories of Asian Americans,” he said on an episode of Only in America, a podcast from the National Immigration Forum. “If they do that responsibility, we’ll start to see a different narrative about what Asian Americans are.”

Next month is May, Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Month. While the conversation about #StopAsianHate should be a year-long discussion, it’s important to remember this message in May while these communities are hard at work to promote ending systemic racism in America. The media has the power to shape the news into how they want people to view events, people, and the world itself. So when they change their narratives to influence certain ethnic groups, particularly Asian Americans who have shouldered the blame for the world’s current problem, we can finally walk the path that ends Asian hate. 

To learn more about Asian hate and how to join the conversation, click here for guidance and resources from the Asian American Journalists Association

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K-pop Pop Culture

BTS share their experiences with racism in support of #StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate – and it speaks volumes

BTS, without a shadow of a doubt, has been the most impactful and culturally significant group in the global music industry as of late.

They’ve continued to redefine what it means to be a widely popular boy-band. They’ve broken so many cultural, racial, and geographical boundaries, stereotypes, and world records over the last few years to prove that they deserve the place they’ve made for themselves – at the top of global musical charts.

Grammys 2021: BTS Army trends ‘Scammys’ after K-pop band’s ‘Dynamite’ fails to win
Image Description: BTS sitting on green couches, looking at the camera. Source: Free Press Journal India.

However, owing to the fact that they are Korean and sing almost exclusively in their language, their journey has been anything but easy for them, since they became popular in the West. They’ve been overlooked, underestimated, and subjected to racism and derogation. People outright refused to listen to their music or to look up translations of their lyrics, not caring about what they have to say through their art.

Yet, these same people have the nerve to generalize their entire fanbase as “mindless 12-year-olds who don’t have a life.” Not bothering to care why so many people of all ages, professions, races, and ethnicities have been enraptured by BTS’ music. It’s a crude, racist way of putting down a fanbase for a boy-band that’s become a global phenomenon.

Racism and racial micro-aggression are still something BTS faces even today, despite their countless and growing achievements.

With the horrific rise of anti-Asian hate crimes and violence in the United States, BTS recently took to their Twitter to lend their support to the #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate campaigns. For the first time, BTS directly addressed the racist experiences they’ve had to face as Asians.

“We feel grief and anger,” their statement reads. “We recall moments where we faced discrimination as Asians. We have endured expletives without reason and were mocked for the way we look. We were even asked why Asians spoke in English. We cannot put into words the pain of becoming subject of hatred and violence for such a reason.”

They further add that while their experiences are “inconsequential compared to the events that have occurred over the past few weeks, they were enough to make us feel powerless and chip away at our self-esteem.”


BTS normally does not address any such experiences directly, choosing to focus on spreading positivity and happiness through their social media and live videos. So for them to outrightly speak up about the hurt and abuse they’ve faced being Asian is heartbreaking to see.

“What is happening right now cannot be dissociated from our identity as Asians,” the statement continues, adding that it took them a lot of time to discuss how to best put this message across. They ended their statement with the same words they used in the one in support of Black Lives Matter last year, with many fans commending it as a way to show how everyone is equal to them.

“We stand against racial discrimination.
We condemn violence.
You, I and we all have the right to be respected. We will stand together.”

Image Description: BTS giving their speech at the United Nations in 2018. Source: allkpop

People all over social media, regardless of whether they are fans or not, are both thanking BTS for raising awareness for the social issue and campaign while also being simultaneously heartbroken that the band is still subject to such abuse and disrespect despite their obvious significance in the global music industry. Translators have even pointed out that the Korean text of their speech states that they’ve faced hatred and abuse even as they walked down the street.

Even after the statement was released, several people decided it’s okay to invalidate their trauma because of their success and wealth.

Even after the statement was released, several people decided it’s okay to invalidate their trauma by actually equating them to white people because of their success and wealth. As if their celebrity status is reason enough to strip them of their humanity.

After their unfair snub at the GRAMMYs earlier this month, the trading card brand Topps created a Garbage Pail Kids caricature depicting BTS being “bruised” and beaten up with a GRAMMY award. Not only was it heavily criticized for its blatant disrespect, but it was made during a time when anti-Asian violence was heavily on the rise. They’ve since then removed the caricature off their shelves.

In February, a German radio host came under fire for verbally insulting BTS on-air, comparing them to COVID-19 and saying he hopes there will be a vaccine against them. He refused to apologize for his insults, saying that he was entitled to “freedom of expressing his opinion.” However, it is said he hasn’t been hosting his show for over a month.

BTS themselves have been repeatedly asked so many questions about if they will collaborate with Western artists, or if they will release songs or albums in English; way before they released their record-breaking single “Dynamite.” While the song deserves the recognition and love that it’s receiving, there’s no doubt that the Western industry only paid them attention because of the song’s all-English lyrics.

Grammys 2021: Here are GIFs of the night's most memorable moments – Orange County Register
Image Description: a gif of BTS performing Dynamite at the 2021 GRAMMYs with the Seoul skyline in the background. Source: The Orange County Register

While their agency, HYBE (formerly BigHit Entertainment), has threatened legal action against those who have made malicious comments, BTS’ statement has gone to show that no matter how big an impact you’ve made in the world, you will always be belittled and subjected to racism if you aren’t white.

However, the #StopAsianHate and #StopAAPIHate will always be inclusive to any Asian (East Asian, South Asian, Southeast Asian, etc.) on the receiving end of hatred and abuse, and that includes BTS and any other Asian celebrity. There will always be people who thrive on spreading hate, but we will always stand by our Asian brothers and sisters.

If you want to do your bit, step up to defend them if you see them being assaulted, speak up about it using the hashtags and donate to this GoFundMe page.

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