Addressing rising crime rates against Asian Americans

Crimes against people of Asian descent in the U.S. has quadrupled since the pandemic started.
Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 9:49 PM CST
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ODESSA, Texas (KOSA) - It’s been a difficult week for minority communities across the country as the nation reels from two mass shootings involving the Asian community.

Both these shootings took place around the Lunar New Year, a major celebration throughout Southeast Asia and one of the biggest holidays in Asian culture.

This year, there hasn’t been much celebrating here in the United States.

“It has a detrimental impact on the Asian community,” said UT-Permian Basin Assistant Professor Wei-Ju Chen, whose family emigrated to the U.S. when Chen was 11.

Two shootings, two days apart. Both are in California. Both predominantly involve the state’s Asian population.

While neither the shooting at Monterey Park nor Half Moon Bay appears to be inspired by anti-Asian sentiment, they are – once again – bringing the struggles of Asian communities into the light.

“COVID-19 has really enabled an increase in prejudice and racism, making the pandemic a racial issue when it’s supposed to be a public health matter,” Chen said.

The numbers support Chen’s claim. Since the pandemic’s start, crimes against Asians have more than quadrupled, and the Permian Basin is no exception.

In early 2020, a man with a knife attacked an Asian-American family in a Midland Sam’s Club, eventually receiving a 25-year prison sentence (45 years total) for hate crimes.

“It’s been three years, but we’re still seeing this happening,” Chen lamented. “This discrimination is still quite prevalent.”

The Permian Basin’s Asian community is small but gaining force. Chen said the goal is to help people better understand different cultures and help redirect misconceptions.

“I think seeing people who support us, seeing people who are an ally, seeing people who know that in many ways we are more similar than different, that we’re not treated as ‘other,’ we’re not excluded,” Chen said. “I think that really helps.”

She continuously emphasized that despite the different cultures, celebrations, and traditions of people in the U.S., there is more there that binds us than divides us if only we allow ourselves to learn.

“Yes, we’re all different people, but in many ways, we’re very much the same,” she said.