MISSOULA — Preliminary findings from the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism show that hate crimes dropped 6% nationwide in 2020 -- but anti-Asian hate crimes surged 145%.
After the killing of eight people in Atlanta-area massage parlors last week – six of whom were Asian women -- the discrimination and hate towards Asian-Americans can’t be ignored -- even states away in Montana.
“Of course, we want to be proud of the state that we live in. But people are experiencing a lot of hate and racism, not just towards Asian Americans, but for a lot of our different minority communities here,” said Alex Kim who works as the racial injustice engagement specialist for EmpowerMT headquartered in Missoula. “And to say that it's not happening would be really turning a blind eye to something that is more prevalent to someone else, than it may be to you."
A spike in Asian-American hate crimes comes as no surprise to Kim.
“I feel like with anything in our society, we have leadership or people that have, you know, power, and a platform fueling racism and hate and it's easy to fall along with that and to go with that kind of language and rhetoric and so it's definitely not a surprise to me to see the rise of hate towards Asian Americans,” Kim told MTN News.
While an incident like the Atlanta shootings might have occurred in a big city -- states away, the effects trickle down into communities like Missoula.
“In this situation, it just so happened that there were six Asian women who were killed, and so for an Asian person to see that all the way across the states or even anywhere in the world, you know, it's hard not to see yourself or your mom or your sister or your relatives or your friends,” Kim said.
So where do we go from here? Racial injustice won’t be solved overnight, but on behalf of EmpowerMT, Kim recommends starting a conversation about the injustice, looking at situations from a different perspective, and examining who our leaders are and what they stand for.
“In Montana, there's still a legislative session that's going on,” Kim explained. “I think that it's really important that everybody considers who they're voting for and what they're affiliated to, and what their political views are, but also what their views on race and what their views on equality are.”
Kim says EmpowerMT can be a great resource if you don’t know how to have that conversation about racial injustice. Click here to learn more.