There’s a growing concern about a recent increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in Southern California, and one woman is helping victims find a voice, so they can report when they’ve been targeted.
Esther Lim is an activist and the writer of a booklet designed to help people report these hate crimes.
Lim remembers vividly when anti-Asian hate speech first reared its ugly head during the national political discussion about COVID-19 when former President Donald Trump referred to COVID as the “China virus.”
“That was a direct threat,” Lim said through tears.
She knew it would only get worse, and it did.
“I didn’t feel safe in my own country, because of the way I looked,” she said.
Now months into the pandemic, she’s heard from Asian American friends and specifically about a woman who works downtown that had been screamed at from a passing car.
“They scream like ching-chong and China virus and go back to your own country,” Lim said.
Such hate speech is hurtful and offensive, but when does it become a crime?
Lim says many Asian Americans don’t know and therefore, don’t report it.
Instead of just accepting it, Lim decided she had to do something.
She created little booklets: “How to Report a Hate Crime.” Fifteen pages of information in various native languages and small, so they can be easy to carry anywhere.
Eun-Young Kim owns “Hwasoban,” a ceramic store in LA’s Koreatown.
When Lim went by with her booklets – hoping to leave them for free for anyone passing by – Kim jumped at the chance!
An immigrant herself, Kim says people like her need booklets like these.
It tears down language barriers and helps older people quickly identify “hate incidents” or “hate crimes” and tells them where to report them.
Lim even leaves free whistles nearby, to give people a quick and simple defense device.
“I’m not going to remain silent anymore, and I don't want anyone else to as well,” she said.
Lim has already made and distributed thousands of booklets and is now expanding to the Bay Area with Korean, Chinese, Japanese and more!
She has been creating the pamphlets on her own time and at her own expense, although she’s now started a GoFundMe account to defray the costs.
On the back page of the booklet you can find a last-resort panic message which a non-English speaker can show to a bystander.
“English isn’t my first language. This person is harassing me. Can you help me?,” it reads.
A new tool for people who have suffered silently for too long, Lim says, and who just need some guidance to fight back.
For more information about where you can pick up a free booklet or to download a copy visit https://www.hatecrimebook.com/.
For more resources, like financial and legal help for victims visit the following websites.
OCA Asian Pacific American Advocates Hate Incident Reporting Website: aapihatecrimes.org
Stop AAPI Hate Reporting Center: www.a3pcon.org/stopaapihate
Asian Americans Advancing Justice's Stand Against Hatred: www.standagainsthatred.org/
ADL Hate Tracker: www.adl.org/reportincident
Los Angeles vs. Hate: lavshate.org