In February 2017, Dyne Suh was rejected from renting an Airbnb property because of her race.
To some, Suh’s Airbnb experience was an outrageous violation of rights that warranted an explanation from Airbnb itself and an apology from the Airbnb host.
To others, Suh, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, appeared to be overreacting and exaggerating, with commentators even suggesting that she fabricated the entire story.
But perhaps most importantly, Suh’s Airbnb experience represents racially charged hate crimes targeted at Asian Americans in the U.S., the number of which has only increased after the election of President Donald Trump.
The Airbnb host who discriminated against Suh because of her racial background even cited Trump as the justification for this rationale, according to the screenshots posted by Suh on her Facebook.
While Suh’s story garnered national media attention and dominated the feeds of social media users across the country, the majority of hate crimes targeting Asian Americans rarely receive a comparable amount of coverage and subsequent outrage. In reality, most Asian American hate crimes are quite frequently underreported, as minorities often feel unsupported by law enforcement and do not come forward with racially-motivated attacks.
At a time when anti-Asian American sentiment is alive, well, and worst of all, normalized, it becomes even more crucial to help empower Asian American hate crime victims to share their stories and come forward with the injustices they’ve faced, regardless of whether they’ve suffered from anti-Asian American sentiment in the form of physical violence or emotional distress.
Stand Against Hatred is the first-ever hate crime tracker specifically devoted to hate crimes against Asian Americans. The tracker was launched by Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC), which is, according to its website, an “affiliation of five organizations that work together to provide programs and services to the AAPI community nationwide.”
The tracker works to increase Asian American visibility and to generate conversation surrounding Asian American issues, both within and outside the Asian American community. It’s clearly designed for the average user; the process of reporting a story is simple, as victims are introduced to an easily-navigable form that helps the tracker understand the full scope of the issue at hand. Information taken by the tracker helps AAJC track and analyze data on Asian American hate crimes in Trump’s America.
Most notable is the tracker’s extensive list of possible motivations behind the hate crime itself. The power of this feature lies in the organization’s recognition that hate crimes targeted at Asian Americans are often motivated by more than race. This encourages victims to share their experiences, even if race isn’t at the forefront of the incident.
The tracker also includes a field where users can provide their contact information to be connected to resources that help combat hate crimes across the U.S. More important, however, is that the tracker maintains an element of confidentiality. It does not report stories to law enforcement, nor does it share the personal information of those who choose to report their experiences.
Instead, there’s a unique sense of unity derived from Stand Against Hatred’s presentation, which links one story to the next. While undoubtedly important in its singularity, each story is connected to the story before and after it. This delivers a powerful statement: no one is alone.
Stories like Suh’s dominate the site, with no issue too small to be featured. Part of the tracker’s impact is aiding Asian Americans in recognizing racially motivated injustice, even when carefully and subtly embedded in comments, conversation, and policies. While blatant physical attacks are prominently displayed, most of the incidents are as much about what is unsaid than said.
The power of documentation exceeds the mere act of publicly airing grievances. Instead, it’s the process of sharing stories and the introspection and reflection on painful issues that come with this process that help us the most. By speaking out, we are not only actively supporting Asian American issues and bringing them to the attention of our peers, authority figures, and leaders, but we are also encouraging careful examination of our own everyday experiences.