SKYLER GALLARZAN WRITES — On April 14, 2021, the United States Senate voted on a bill that would speed up the review of reported attacks related to COVID-19, establish new methods in reporting these incidents and keep citizens safe.
The bill’s name? The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act.
A report conducted by the activist group Stop AAPI Hate concludes that nearly 3,800 hate crimes towards Asian Americans were reported from March 19, 2020 to February 28, 2021. These include verbal harassment, physical assault, civil rights violations and online harassment. And those 3800 victims represent just those incidents that have been reported- imagine the numbers and voices of victims whose stories remain silent.
In order to pass the bill sponsored by Senator Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, and Representative Grace Meng, Democrat of New York, 60 senators had to proceed with the legislation, which would require all 50 Democratic senators to vote in its favor -plus at least 10 Republicans. The result? 92-6.
Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, urged his colleagues to combat the world of racism as a unit, and not to block this chance to bring peace to the Asian American community.
“Combating hate in the Asian American community can and should be bipartisan,” he said. “I hope it’ll be many more than 60 who would oppose this very simple, but necessary legislation?”
Still, six senators voted to block the legislation: Republicans Tom Cotton of Arkansas, Ted Cruz of Texas, Josh Hawley of Missouri, Roger Marshall of Kansas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Tommy Tuberville of Alabama.
Although there have been very few clear explanations right now as to why these senators voted against an Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Act, it is no secret that the decisions and statements made by political powers have a great effect on citizens watching.
In this past year of uncertainty and hostility, former President Donald Trump may have inflamed tensions towards the Asian American community, spurring acts of racism, by, for example, calling the coronavirus the “Kung flu” or “The Wuhan Virus.”
Will this bill change the course of racism toward the Asian American community? Maybe, but with leaders still introducing 20 amendments to the bill, it may be a while before actual change can even begin to be implemented.
Why must there be so much commotion about such a necessary proposition as stopping Asian hate? Why must we fight for such a basic necessity such as peace for our communities?