Texas A&M Sociology Graduate Student: Senate Anti-Hate Bill is a “Positive Step”
BRYAN, Texas (KBTX) – The U.S. Senate recently passed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act with overwhelming bipartisan support. The bill now heads to the House for approval before it makes its way to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.
The bill looks to speed up the prosecution of hate crime within the Justice Department, raise awareness about the increasing amount of racism towards Asian-Americans, and creates a better reporting system to document hate crimes.
Jingqiu Ren joined First News at Four to provide her perspective on the bill. Ren is pursuing a doctorate within the Texas A&M Sociology department. She also recently completed a study on Asian American hate crimes in the U.S.
“The fact that the Senate passed this bill is a positive step forward,” Ren said.
She said there was an uptick in anti-Asian American hate crimes at the beginning of the pandemic. Ren explained that it fell out of major headline news as COVID-19 dominated most news outlets but that it never went away completely. That is, until the recent Atlanta shootings that disproportionately killed Asian American women.
“This is sort of, in a way, reflective of the Asian American experiences throughout history,” Ren explained, “whenever we see there is a rise of attention in the society and this perceived threat from outsider groups intensifies, then Asian American groups suddenly became visible targets for xenophobic and racist attacks.”
Ren said this has been a rising problem since roughly 2015 according to FBI data. But she explained that this is something Asian Americans have been dealing with for decades in the U.S.
“Asian Americans share a lot of these intersectional identities and locations with other groups in our society,” Ren explained, “so I think it’s a positive step forward not only for Asian Americans but also for all these different minority groups.”
Ren said building institutional awareness and creating ways to combat racism and xenophobia leads to protection for all minorities. She refers to it as ‘infrastructure,’ meaning that this legislation can guide and help provide a path forward for future generations to continue the fight against hate in the U.S.
But she says passing the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act shouldn’t be the end of America’s fight against racism and xenophobia.
“I certainly hope as an Asian American in this country to see more concrete steps,” Ren explained, “not only just to report the crimes that have already happened, but maybe taking more steps to look at how we can raise awareness of Asian Americans, of Asian American history in the country, our identity and how we are connected to all the other vulnerable groups in our society, and being able to form this coalition, have this institutional framework in place to help combat racism and xenophobia.”
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