USCCR Briefing on Anti-Asian Discrimination
anti-asian hate

USCCR Briefing on Anti-Asian Discrimination

The following is the text of my speech:

Good afternoon. My name is Diane Yap, and I was born and raised in San Francisco. Unfortunately, my city has changed over the years into one where Asian seniors are afraid to leave their own homes. There has been a surge of violent and often fatal attacks against Asians. Just a few examples:

  • 70 year old Mrs. Ren was shoved to the floor, beaten and kicked in the head by 3 teens and an 11 year old
  • 2 elderly women were stabbed with a machete while waiting for a bus
  • A 15-year-old boy was stabbed in the neck on the bus by a 12-year-old boy

However, none of these brutal acts have been classified as “hate crimes.” Hate crimes, while certainly on the rise, are a small fraction of the violence faced by Asians in this country. According to the Department of Justice’s 2021 Criminal Victimization report, Asians were the victims of nearly 170,000 violent incidents while the number of anti-Asian hate crimes in 2021 was just 305. This is not to minimize the impact of hate crime victimization, but to put the scope of the problem in proper context. The danger in restricting our analysis to just “hate crimes” is that we misdiagnose the cause.

Who is responsible for these attacks against Asians? It appears that attacks against Asians only stirred interest on Capitol Hill once there was a way to blame conservatives or white supremacy: like that oft-repeated statistic that 75% of anti-Asian hate crimes are perpetrated by white people? Diving into the source material reveals it’s based on incidents from 4337 news articles about “coronavirus-related, anti-Asian racism in the United States”. Of these, there were just twelve


incidents with physical contact and where the race of the perpetrator was known. Of those twelve, nine had white perpetrators – hence 75%. By comparison, the same study included 55 tweets from Donald Trump alone… And yet, a tweet never put grandma in the hospital.

The urgent issue of violence against Asians predates COVID. The 2018 Criminal Victimization report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics shows violent incidents by race of victim and offender. The largest share – 27.5% – are perpetrated by black offenders, while Asians commit just 0.1% of such attacks against black victims. If all those living nearby were equally likely to attack Asians, blacks are attacking Asians at more than three times the expected rate, as the average Asian lives in a neighborhood that’s just 8% black. On the other hand, white and Hispanic people are attacking Asians at about half the expected rate. This is not new: a 2008 analysis on physical assault crimes in San Francisco showed that in 85% of cases, “the victim was Asian and the perpetrators were African American”. Sadly, government policy makers and media outlets do not want to acknowledge that black-on-Asian violence is a problem.

Racial resentment is at the root of the problem. This resentment is well-explained by the middleman minority concept: immigrants who occupy a low-barrier niche in the economy like retail and, via punishing work schedules and self-sacrifice, ascend from poverty to prosperity often within one generation. Middleman minorities have faced violence throughout history because native populations of lower status feel entitled to the same outcomes.

Today’s expectation of equal outcomes can be summarized by one word: equity. The repetition of this term in policy discussions implies that all outcomes should be doled out proportionately amongst different racial groups, regardless of relevant factors such as behavior. But we should expect proportionate outcomes only if these are assigned at random. But police don’t arrest people at random. Courts don’t imprison people at random. The government does not randomly force anyone to drop out of high school, nor does it randomly assign anyone to a life of poverty. All of these outcomes depend largely on behavior and individual choices. When you are repeatedly told that outcomes are unfair because they are racially disproportionate, it is natural to resent the beneficiaries of this imagined unfairness. Unfortunately, such a mindset breeds racial resentment and thus anti-Asian hate.

While the focus of this hearing is anti-Asian hate crimes, any given Asian individual in the U.S. (out of a total Asian population of ~18 million) is statistically unlikely to be the victim of a hate crime. On the other hand, anti-Asian discrimination in education figures prominently in the life of every Asian American. When I was twelve, I saw my friend sobbing at school after acceptance letters to Lowell High arrived. She missed the cutoff score for Chinese students by just one point. If she had been any other race, she would have gotten in.

Selective high schools like Lowell High in San Francisco, the screened schools of New York City, and #1 ranked Thomas Jefferson in Virginia are all fighting misguided attempts to make their student bodies match area demographics: equity. All of these attempts involve degrading or eliminating the consideration of academic proficiency in admissions. Asians bear the brunt of these unconstitutional attempts at racial balancing. Even at Harvard, an Asian applicant with a 25% chance of getting in would have a 95% chance if he were able to check the “African American” box instead – nothing else about him would have to change.

The role of the government is not and should not be to put a thumb on the scale in order to produce racially proportionate outcomes. The goal should not be equal outcomes (or “equity”) but rather equal opportunity. The government’s role is to ensure that no one faces discrimination on the basis of race.

On the matter of hate crimes, that means better crime prevention generally, in the form of increased police presence, surveillance of hotspots, predictive policing, and especially imprisonment of repeat offenders.

On the issue of affirmative action, that means recognizing that such policies discriminate against Asians in favor of objectively less qualified applicants. If you believe underrepresented groups deserve special help, then you also believe there are “overrepresented” groups that deserve to be discriminated against. These are inextricably linked, and the latter is clearly unconstitutional. If the Supreme Court bans race-based affirmative action, it is the duty of the government to enforce the ban as vigorously as it once enforced Brown v Board of Education.

About the Speaker