Languages do not die. They don’t just grow old, weary and ready to embrace the coldness of death. They are killed, murdered by policies, intergenerational traumas, and external as well as internalised oppression all stemming from another language community which seeks to subdue it by force, either seen or unseen by the very language community being ushered towards the end of its existence.
Four teens were charged last Thursday with the strangling death of 49 year old Chinese account executive David Kao, in Flushing, New York. Under questioning the teens, aged 16 and 17, confessed to dragging, choking, and beating Kao in the backseat of his car before dumping his body on a nearby street. The suspects, who admitted to the stickup of another Asian man in Flushing last month, had targeted both men because of the victims’ race. Sounds like a hate crime, right? District Attorney Richard Brown, who’s prosecuting the teens, thinks otherwise.
David Kao’s death was not an isolated incident. Throughout my life, incidents of anti-Asian violence have recurred with alarming frequency. I am surprised and a bit incredulous, then, when I am confronted with news coverage that touts the low incidence of anti-Asian crime.
When I learned about Kao’s murder, I reverted to my usual routine of feeling despondent, angry, and frustrated by my inability to prevent these types of incidents from occurring. From an early age, I’d recognized that these events were not uncommon: when I was a kid, it was the crime waves leveled against Asian owned businesses in the Bay Area, New York, Philly, etc. -crimes of which the robberies of my parents’ Oakland Chinatown acupuncture clinic were a part. In high school, it was the deaths of Middle Eastern and South Asian Americans like Balbir Singh Sodhi, a Sikh American gas station owner who was shot by a man bent on “avenging” the September 11th attacks. In college, it was hearing my students, high-school aged, immigrant victims of anti-Asian violence in Bensonhurst Brooklyn, recount the physical bullying, harassment, and teasing that they experienced daily on account of being Asian. A 14 year old boy at one of our program’s feeder schools was beaten up so severely (for no other reason save the fact that he is an Asian male) last year that he was hospitalized and described as “unrecognizable” by his father.
And yet, according to the FBI’s annual hate crime report, only 4.7% of the single-bias hate crime incidents in 2007 involved victims of an anti-Asian/Pacific Islander bias.
The Asian American Legal and Defense Education allege, however, that Anti-Asian violence is widely underreported at both the individual and state level. The reasons are manifold: Asian American victims may not be comfortable with, or capable of reporting their experiences because of the lack of bilingual law enforcement personnel, mistrust of local police, fears of trouble over their immigration status, and a general lack of awareness around hate crimes and federal civil rights protections. Furthermore, despite the passage of legislation mandating the collection of federal hate crimes statistics, many states and localities have not made rigorous efforts to prosecute and collect data on anti-Asian violence. Most local police forces do not gather records on hate-crimes, and few state governments have implemented programs to measure the number of crimes against specific racial groups.
Kao’s case raises another explanation as to why Asian American victims are reluctant to report racially motivated crimes. Although police confirmed that the teens charged with Kao’s death targeted Kao and Jin Ton Yuan because of their race, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown has decided not to prosecute the murder as a hate crime. Sadly, this is in line with a larger trend: victims of anti-Asian violence incur the problem of non-identification or mis-identification of hate crimes by law enforcement officers who don’t take them seriously and deliberately avoid investigations. […]
it’s not a sunday unless you completely waste it then feel really sad around 8pm