by Will Halverson, Executive Editor in Chief
In the light of the rising numbers in anti-Asian violent and racially-charged crimes, it is easy to label Americans as a bigoted people with very little tolerance for those coming from alternative ways of living. A decent amount of this is true. America, sporting a self-gifted title as a policing force for the rights of individuals oppressed by their respective government, has an extremely tainted history in regards to its treatment of its own people. From anti-immigration laws specifically targeting the Chinese to Denver’s very own race riot almost 150 years ago, it becomes quite clear that Americans hold a certain animosity towards Asian peoples, domestic or abroad. However, what confuses me is the origin of this negativity. Of course, the argument of America’s intolerance is completely valid to me and holds a certain level of truth, I still attempt to see the amiable qualities of my countrymen. It is true, racism and oppression maintain their vice grip on society and will undoubtedly continue past my own time and that of anyone reading. However, my question is not about where racism will end; my question concerns where it starts.
First utilized in the 1970’s by Chester Pierce, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School, “microaggression” has become a substantial form of racial discrimination, especially so of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders. In recent times, derogatory phrases such as “China-virus” or “Kung-Flu” have only encouraged the onslaught of racial oppression on these groups, in America and worldwide. While typically not targeted as major headlines, anti-Asian microaggressions have grown ever more prominent, escalating into violent tragedy in extreme cases.
It isn’t hard to find at least one source where fear and anger are grown to then pass on to American citizens. Media organizations have been doing this for decades now, determining whether to release or hold stories based on their impact on the general public. With the rise of sensationalist broadcasting and reporting, otherwise known as “yellow journalism”, so too has the habit of uninformed radicalization and division. The Vietnam War for example, one of the first major conflicts to be adamantly filmed and reported on, saw some of the greatest division among Americans as well as animosity towards Southeast Asia.
The US tends to filter history through its own sift in an attempt to portray itself in the best possible light. This is evident everywhere, from education curriculums to news headlines. Nowadays, I wouldn’t go as far as to say media outlets are inherently bigoted. Not obviously anyway… While titles like “This Chinese facial recognition start-up can identify a person in seconds” from a 2019 CNBC article seem to lack any sort of negative connotation, the image they create has a much more biased interpretation in the subconscious of readers. Within the article, certain quotes such as “China’s facial recognition database includes nearly every one of China’s 1.4 billion citizens,” or “The security surveillance market is $120 billion in China alone,” in a way dehumanizes Chinese people and establishes the narrative that the Chinese government is the ultimate enemy. While I don’t necessarily find any issue with reporting on the Chinese tech industry or its increasing surveillance, I do find this type of presentation to be a distasteful progression of fear mongering.
America’s obvious lack of acceptance towards minorities and unrelenting discriminatory systems are clear to me, as I am sure it is to many others. Racism, whether one accepts it or not, is permanently ingrained in the foundation of our sovereign nation. It plagues our history, poisons our present, and pollutes our future. However, I also believe in America’s potential. Built on not only the words of our forefathers, but the backs of slaves, the ships of migrants, and the perpetuation of the American dream. Racial oppression is just another obstacle we have as a nation, although it is one we have to continue to fight. Fight on.