Last summer, the United States went through an intense racial reckoning during which deep-rooted anti-Blackness was thrust into the spotlight in various ways. Alongside those conversations was one about the discriminatory violence Asian and Asian-American people have experienced, including a recent spate of assaults spurred by fear and anger over the novel coronavirus. A year later, a new string of erratic and violent attacks against elderly Asian men are taking place along the West Coast in the US, notably in Oakland's Chinatown, and some of the most famous Asian stars in Hollywood are now using their platforms to bring attention to the concerning lack of media coverage of the issue.
In January, an 84-year-old Thai man named Vicha Ratanapakdee died after being brutally assaulted in San Francisco; his attacker is now in police custody. Another 91-year-old man was violently attacked in Oakland and badly injured, hours after two other elderly individuals were abused by the same suspect.
These attacks follow a history of underreported violence towards Asians throughout the country, says Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii-Five-0). And the reason why they usually fly under the radar is the very same reason why they keep happening — people simply aren't talking about them enough.
"The number of hate crimes against Asian Americans continues to skyrocket, despite our repeated pleas for help," Kim captioned a CCTV recording of the Oakland crime on a recent Instagram post. "The crimes are too often ignored and even excused...we must do more to help the literally thousands of Americans who have suffered at the hands of this absolutely senseless violence."
In the same post, he revealed that he and fellow actor Daniel Wu (Tomb Raider) were offering a $25,000 (£18k) reward for information about the man who attacked the elders in Oakland last month. The individual has since been identified and taken into police custody.
British actor Gemma Chan (Captain Marvel) also shared footage of the January 31 attack on her Instagram account in an attempt to raise awareness of the rising anti-Asian sentiment.
"This is difficult to watch but this is a plea for help," she wrote of the scene. "Hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans have skyrocketed. The community is in pain from these completely unprovoked attacks but the crimes are too often ignored and underreported. Imagine if this was your father or grandfather?"
"These are just a few of many attacks, and they are not limited to the U.S.; in the UK hate crimes against East and Southeast Asians have increased 300% during the pandemic," Chan continued. "Please share, raise awareness and call for government and the media to recognize these as hate crimes and to take action. The violence will only end when the silence ends."