“Why don’t you go back to your own country”:
How violence against Asian Americans affects all of us.
Today, March 26, is the Asian and Pacific Islander Day of Action, organized in response to the recent upsurge in violence against Asian Americans, American Pacific Islanders, and other citizens. This violence is endemic and it is increasing alarmingly. In addition to the murders of Asian American women in Georgia, the unprovoked attacks on Asian Americans across the country, including attacks on elderly citizens, the everyday racism these citizens endure is just as heartbreaking. One horrifying example reported was a threatening letter received by an Asian American resident of a retirement community on the day of her husband’s funeral. The writer, evidently a resident in the same community, described his disgust at seeing Asian Americans, his joy at the death of her husband and finished with the all-too-typical refrain: “Just go back to your own country.” THIS IS THEIR COUNTRY.
We cannot predict when the next such outburst of violence will occur, or whether it will be motivated by self-loathing, racial hatred, or simply the easy availability of firearms. What we can predict with absolute confidence is that another such episode will occur, and that the victims are highly likely to be targeted on the basis of external appearance. We can also predict that the American public will move on with the next news cycle, and that new outrages and horrors will distract from the ongoing epidemic of violence against Asian Americans and other minorities. It is our role—both individual and societal—as psychologists to ensure that we continue to make our colleagues, patients, and the public aware of this ongoing violence and the negative personal and societal consequences of racism. As psychologists, we need to speak out against all instances of persecution and violence in the name of hate. The National Register of Health Service Psychologists stands in support of Asians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders and their families and loved ones who are the victims of racial violence, hatred, and criminal acts, and with all those similarly victimized. We urge all psychologists to use their education and skills to bring comfort to these victims and greater awareness of this scourge to society at large.