‘Anti-hate glossary’ fights rising racism through education
When former US President Donald Trump called the coronavirus a “Chinese virus”, he fanned the flames of a dark byproduct of the Covid-19 pandemic: a growing wave of anti-asian hate.
The slur blames particular places and ethnic communities for containing and spreading the disease, which is “reminiscent of the early anti-Asian sentiment that characterized the Chinese as sick”, as explained in a new publication by Committee of 100.
The 15-page manual, titled “Anti-Hate Glossary,” aims to combat this rise in racism through education. Containing approximately 30 entries, it strives to raise awareness of racist or inappropriate language that can harm the Asian community.
According to its website, the nonpartisan organization behind the publication aims to facilitate understanding between China and the United States by building constructive relations between the Chinese and American communities.
The list is divided into three categories: yellow peril stereotypes, model minority tropes, and gender stereotypes.
Elizabeth Kerr, who coordinated the research, said at the virtual event introducing the glossary that it serves to raise awareness of the challenges faced by Chinese Americans, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.
“Language is something we use every day,” Kerr says. “We see [the glossary] as an accessible framework for sharing the experiences of Chinese Americans in a way that everyone can understand, appreciate, and most importantly, remember.
Ranging from old pejorative terms such as ‘Zipperhead’ and ‘Fu Manchu‘ to newer labels like “Kung Flu,” the entries not only contain definitions, but unpack the reasons why those terms are problematic.
“Seeing tropes or using and hearing words that speak ill of Chinese Americans and the AAPI community is nothing new,” said the communications director of Committee of 100Charles Zinkowski, tells RADII.
In the book Raciolinguistics: how language shapes our ideas about racelinguistics researchers point out how language plays a vital role in shaping our perception of race and identity.
Recent research by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism indicates that anti-Asian hate crimes in the United States increased 339% from 2020 to 2021, as reported by NBC News.
“The racist and xenophobic language that has been used to describe Chinese Americans has undoubtedly contributed to the rise in violence and hatred directed against the AAPI community that we have seen in recent years alone,” Zinkowski says. .
“Pushing back against systemic biases is a real ongoing battle for Chinese Americans, but many Americans may not understand why certain terms are hurtful and dangerous,” notes Zhengyu Huang, president of the organization, in a press release.
Understanding how language shapes our perceptions of race and contributes to negative minority experiences in the Western world has never been more important – it’s a battle we all must fight. Because, as the legendary writer George Orwell clearly wrote, “If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”
The complete version of the glossary can be consulted here.
Cover image via Depositphotos