Anna Ho is a second year Music student at Hope and a talented pianist. While Anna, 22, says she’s faced no discrimination whatsoever at Hope, here she talks about the rise of anti-Asian racism in the wider community which she has witnessed since the beginning of the global pandemic. And in a moving blog, she opens-up about her fears - while calling for support for the entire Asian community:
“The official stats revealed by the police tell us that in the UK alone, hate crimes towards East and Southeast Asians groups have increased by almost 300% during Covid-19 crisis.
And as a woman from this community, I’m all too aware of this alarming increase in anti-Asian discrimination - because I’ve been on the receiving end.
I’ve been heckled, stared at, and abused in public throughout the Coronavirus pandemic.
And as students begin to return to campus, it’s never been more important for the entire community to work together to break the silence surrounding this problem, and for people like me to speak out in order to end the indifference we see in some sections of the mainstream media.
Racism towards Asian people is, sadly, nothing new and almost normalized. It’s been happening in the UK since long before I was born. But since the pandemic, it has escalated dramatically.
I was recently making my way home from Hope’s Creative Campus and I walked past a building site on Liverpool’s London Road. A male construction worker coughed loudly, in a mocking way, and sneered, ‘Corona!’ at me. I’d like to say it’s an isolated incident, but it’s not.
I could also talk about some of the things that happened last year. In the March of 2020 I’d just finished a piano competition, and I took a bus home. The minute I began to exit the vehicle after my journey, an angry male shouted, ‘Thank God she’s getting off - I don’t want her Coronavirus!’.
Often, the discrimination isn’t so obvious. I might see people staring at me, or clearing their throat as I approach them, or something as subtle as being taunted with “ni hao” or “konnichiwa”, the sort of tiny microaggressions that I experience on an almost daily basis.
How does this all make me feel? It’s difficult to put into words. I genuinely have a constant fear for my safety and welfare when it comes to commuting to campus, let alone fearing to leave my own accomodation just for groceries or to take the rubbish out.
What we’ve seen in the last few days, in the wake of the murder of Sarah Everhard, is a huge focus on the safety of women when out in public. It is, then, hard enough for some of us without having to add the threat of a racist attack into the mix.
And these words fired in my direction are extremely painful to hear. To experience it in the first person is extremely upsetting. I do what I can to deal with it, to share my experiences on Instagram to try and highlight what I’m going through, but it’s tough.
My parents, who trace their roots back to Hong Kong and Mainland China, are obviously really as worried about me as I am about them. And what’s also incredibly sad is that this is happening to elderly Asians, too, people who are vulnerable but who might not be willing to vocalise what is happening to them.
For me, while I’ve never experienced any racism at all at Hope, I worry every time I have to leave the house to travel to and from there. And what I want to see more than ever is for people to reflect on attitudes and work to erase any biases or discriminations they may see, so we can get rid of the toxic perspectives that can ruin lives.
I also want other students to realise that if you see an Asian student looking nervous or upset on campus in the coming weeks, recognise what they might be going through, and how just being there has been a struggle for them.
And please reach out to support them.
It is not enough just to appreciate certain aspects of our vast cultures and yet remain ignorant of the xenophobia, sinophobia, and racism that the Asian community is currently facing. It is more important than ever before that we work together, that we break the silence, and we begin to affect real change.