Monday, November 21, 2005

Asian American Victims of Hate Crimes

Nationwide, Asian American students say they're often beaten, threatened and called ehtnic slurs by other young people, and school safety data suggest that the problem may be worsening. Youth advocates say these Asian teens, stereotyped as high-achieving students who rarely fight back, have for years borne the brunt of ethnic tension as Asian communities expand and neighborhoods become more racially diverse. Consider 18-year-old Chen Tsu. He was waiting on a Brooklyn subway platform after school when four high school classmates approached him and demanded cash. He showed them his empty pockets, but they attached him anyway, taking turns pummeling his face. He was scared and injured--bruised and swollen for seveal days--but hardly surprised. At his school, Lafayette High in Brooklyn, Chinese immigrant students like him are harassed and bullied so routinely that school officials in June agreed to a Department of Justice consent decree to curb alledged "severe and pervasive harassment directed at Asian American students by their classmates." Since then, DOJ credits Lafayette officiasl with addressing the problem--but the case is far from isolated.

In the last five years, Census data show, Asians--mostly Chinese--have grown from 5% to nearly 10% of Brooklyn residents. In the Bensonhurst neighborhood, historically home to Italian and Jewish families, more than 20% of residents now are Asian. Those changes have escalated ethnic tension on campuses such as Lafayette high. Brooklyn's changes mirror Asiuan growth nationally. Between 1980 and 2000, the number of Asians and Pacific Islanders grew from 3.7 million to nearly 12 million driven by the entry of immigrants and refugees. The vast majority are foreign born. After Latinos, Asians are the nation's fastest-growing ethnic group.

Source: Newsday, Nov. 13, 2005.

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