Racism stems from a million assumptions, big and small, that have been strung together—sometimes over generations.
These biases can include something as seemingly “small” as assuming that certain people are good at math because they are Asian, to something much more destructive such as assuming that the elderly Asian man walking past the local newsstand is a carrier of the virus that has caused a global pandemic. If myths such as these are combined with entitlement, misinformation, and hate then that cruelty can take on a life of its own.
We must all fight for a world that is radically inclusive. We do this by combating assumptions, acknowledging conscious or unconscious bias, and rejecting misinformation every single day of our lives—no matter how insignificant or seemingly innocuous the point may be. To be a productive, functioning society, we must see each other as equals who are all doing our best to live constructive lives. We must intervene when racism, bias, or cruelty in any form reveals itself.
Racism is a virus that erodes the moral fiber of our society. It requires the same kind of concerted vigilance to contain and quell that we’ve faced during this past year with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Unfortunately, at the start of the pandemic we heard coronavirus referred to as “the China virus,” “the Wuhan virus,” and even “the Kung Flu.” This degrading misinformation continued to proliferate through 2020, and inflamed a pre-existing condition that has plagued our society for far too long: discrimination and violence against people of Asian and Pacific Island ancestry.
In 2020, reported hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) increased 149% compared to 2019 in 16 of America’s largest cities—even as hate crimes overall decreased by 7%. A report by Stop AAPI Hate documented 3,795 racially motivated attacks against Asian Americans between March 2020 and February 2021. These included the fatal assault in San Francisco of Vichar Ratanapakdee, an 84-year-old Thai man; the brutal attack of a Chinese mother on the street of New York City; and the vandalism and arson of a Buddhist temple in the Little Tokyo neighborhood of Los Angeles. And just a few days ago, eight people—including six Asian women—were shot to death at massage parlors in the Atlanta area.
This spike in anti-Asian sentiment isn’t confined to the United States. Human Rights Watch reported that COVID-19 is “fueling anti-Asian racism and xenophobia worldwide.” Acts of anti-Asian hate across the globe include verbal harassment, avoidance/shunning, physical assault, workplace discrimination, refusal of service, vandalism, and being spat on (which during this pandemic could result in serious illness or death).
And during Women’s History Month, it’s important to note the intersectionality of these attacks: 68% of those reporting hate incidents to Stop AAPI Hate identified as female and 2% identified as transgender or gender nonbinary—2.3 times more than those who identified as male.
At F5, we stand with our colleagues, friends, and families in unequivocally condemning anti-Asian hate and violence. It is horrifying. It is wrong. We are a global company woven together by a fabric of diverse cultures and an inclusive, human-first philosophy. We have a presence in 43 countries, and our workforce represents a breadth of ethnicities from nations across the world. We understand how interconnected our individual and collective lives are. And we know that an act of hate against one person is an act of hate against us all. The fight for anti-racism in support of our friends, family, and coworkers of Asian and Pacific Islander ancestry is part of a much bigger battle. We are fighting for a world that is radically inclusive—where we, as a global community, don’t just tolerate differences, we celebrate them.
As the German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemöller wrote shortly after World War II: First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
Learn more about how you can speak out against anti-Asian hate and the actions you can take if you find yourself confronted by racially motivated discrimination:
Guide to Bystander Intervention
5 Things to Consider When Experiencing Hate