WASHINGTON, KOMPAS.com - While the past year’s battle with COVID-19 has been grueling for health care workers across America, the challenge has been compounded for Asian medical professionals, who have also had to work amid a wave of pandemic-inspired anti-Asian attacks.
“The past year, it was just so many different mixed emotions between the pandemic... [and] issues? regarding? racial ?injustice. All that put together made last year very different from other years,” said Austin Chiang, a doctor whose parents emigrated from Taiwan to the U.S. 10 years before he was born in Irvine, California.
On the same day that six Asian American women were slain with two other individuals in Atlanta last week, the advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate released a report that cited 3,795 hate incidents targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders between March 19, 2020, and Feb. 28, 2021.
More than 500 of the incidents were recorded since the beginning of this year.
COVID-19 was first detected in humans in Wuhan, China, in late 2019. Spreading globally since then, it has felled more than 548,000 people in the U.S., where there have been more than 30 million confirmed cases, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Not gonna lie — given recent events, I walked a little faster to get home and avoided eye contact with anyone. #StopAsianHateCrimes— Austin Chiang, MD MPH (@AustinChiangMD) March 17, 2021
In 16 of the most populous U.S. cities, attacks on Asian Americans increased in 2020 by almost 150% over the previous year, according to data compiled by California State University’s Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism.
That has made the past year a time of reflection for Chiang, who holds a master’s degree in public health from Harvard University and an M.D. from Columbia University.
He has been active on social media countering COVID-19 misinformation?as the chief medical social media officer for 14 hospitals operated by Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and founder of the Association for Healthcare Social Media (AHSM).
The death of George Floyd, an African American man who died while in police custody in May in Minnesota, and the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, “made me rethink a lot of things about ways we can try to incorporate equity around my workplace and making sure that others feel like they are treated fairly and are seen and heard,” the gastroenterologist told VOA Mandarin.
“It’s definitely been jarring and a bit hard to reconcile because at the same time feeling … we’re being judged not for our skill but for our appearance, and certainly that’s something that affects so many different people.”