Will a doll help break US anti-Chinese bias

Will a doll help break US anti-Chinese bias.jpg

Meet Corinne Tan, who was named the 2022"Girl of the Year" by American Girl on the second-last day of 2021. Corrine, a Chinese American skier, is American Girl's first ever "Girl of the Year" of Chinese descent.

American Girl, a US-based popular doll manufacturer, is retailing Corinne doll, along with a book, for $110, and also offers other accessories for sale. The company said it created Corinne to serve as a positive role model which people can look up to and learn from to build a world where everyone is treated fairly and with respect. Especially, to teach children to embrace the changes in the family and society, share their feelings, tackle problems one step at a time, and stand up to racism.

The release of the doll comes after more than a year of public hate crimes against Asian Americans. In particular, the pandemic led to a drastic increase in violence against Asian Americans in the United States. A large number of Asian Americans has faced racist attacks and abuse and suffered immense mental health distress.

There has been an uptick in racial harassment and hate crimes over the past two years. Last year, many videos showing elderly Asian Americans in the US being attacked or robbed in broad daylight went viral online. In fact, from March 19, 2020, to Sept 30, 2021, more than 10,000 incidents against Asian Americans were reported to Stop Hate AAPI, an organization which started tracking acts of discrimination against Asian Americans during the pandemic.

Its findings are disturbing, as one in every five Asian Americans experienced a hate incident in 2020, which means about 4.8 million Asian Americans faced discrimination or hate crimes.

Also, according to a Pew Research Center study, which was released in April, about 81 percent of Asian American adult respondents said violence against the ethnic group is rising, with 32 percent of Asian adults-a much larger percentage than other ethnic groups in the US-saying they fear someone might target, even physically attack them, 45 percent saying they had faced some kind of racial hatred since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out.

Although anti-Asian American hate crimes were reported even before the outbreak of the coronavirus, many anti-Asian American racist rhetoric such as the "Chinese virus" and "kung flu" used by previous US president Donald Trump led to a dramatic rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders.

The fact that some US officials directly or indirectly blamed Asian people for the pandemic, too, contributed to the significant jump in the number of racist attacks on Asian Americans.

Also, some anti-China elements in the US claimed the virus leaked from a lab in China, and even accused China of engineering a "biochemical attack" in order to stigmatize China and divert public attention from the suffering of the American people because of the administration's poor response to the pandemic.

The pandemic has dealt a serious blow to global economy, including the US economy. And, unfortunately, whenever its economy has been badly hit due to a disease outbreak or some other reason, the US administration and its politicians have tried to find a scapegoat, and blamed other countries or minority groups for their woes.

The current situation in the US is part of the country's long history of racial violence including anti-Asian violence, which can be traced to the 19th century. The deep-seated bias against Asians has surfaced again, with the pandemic being just an excuse.

Although US President Joe Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act in May to deter hate crimes against Asian Americans, the number of attacks on Asian Americans has increased.

Since legislation alone cannot stamp out deep-rooted racial prejudice in the US, the administration needs to make sincere efforts to raise public awareness about the dangers of rising xenophobia and anti-Asian violence, stop sending anti-China messages, and take measures to promote inter-ethnic amity by helping people, especially young students, learn more about minority groups' origins and cultures.

Hopefully, the Corinne doll can fulfill part of those needs.

The author is a writer with China Daily.