I posted late last week about a spree of anti-Asian hate crimes in Brooklyn: at least five elderly Asian women have been assaulted in the borough in the last ten days. It turns out that the perpetrators were children, with one of the girls only 12 years old; according to the victims, the girls assaulted the women while two boys of similar age acted as lookouts. After the news about the assaults broke, the parents of three of the children turned them in.
The inescapable fact is that the perpetrators are African-American, and appeared to be targeting Asian women. While it’s not clear what motivated these attacks, I can’t help but think of Spike Lee’s landmark film, Do The Right Thing, which examines the racial strife of a mixed-race neighbourhood in Brooklyn.
I don’t want to project too much onto these kids (not at least until we know more), but I can’t help but see the whole incident as a tragic example of how America is still far, far, far away from being post-racial.
While the original article doesn’t mention the race of the perpetrators, it does include this telling reaction from a (presumably Asian) resident of the neighbourhood:
“I’m horrified, scared,” neighbor Tiffany Tan said. “As long as you don’t go near them, it’s okay.”
What does Ms. Tan mean? Don’t go near the particular kids who attacked the Asian women? The neighbourhood where the attacks took place? Or, all Black people?
The last thing we need is for Asian people to take away from this horrific series of crimes that they need to avoid Black people, because Black people are somehow too scary and violent to interact with. Attitudes like that are only going to exacerbate the tension, miscommunication, and outright hostility that already exists between the Black and Asian communities.