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Northeast Ohio Asian-Americans Say They Continue To Face Racism Fueled By Pandemic Rhetoric

Rallies pushing for an end to violent attacks against Asian-Americans have popped up around the country. This one was in New York City. [Ron Adar / Shutterstock]
Rallies pushing for an end to violent attacks against Asian-Americans have popped up around the country. This one was in New York City. [Ron Adar / Shutterstock]

When people first learned of COVID-19, much of the world put blame to Asian and Asian-American people. This came about partly because Wuhan was the first hotspot, and was spurred by leaders that continually referred to the pandemic as "The Chinese Virus". 

Since the pandemic started, there has been an increase in racism and hatred toward Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, sometimes refered to as AAPIs. AAPIs represent the fastest growing ethnic or racial group in the United States.

STOP AAPI HATE -- a database created in March 2020 for reporting incidents of racism toward that group -- received more than 2,800 incident reports in last year. 

Experts say that many incidents still go unreported. But, slurs and violence continue in 2021.

Noel Quintana, 61, was slashed across the face in New York. It took 100 stitches to close the wound. Vicha Ratanapakdee, 84,  was fatally shoved while walking down a San Francisco sidewalk.

Those are just two names on a long list of violent, racist crimes against Asian background people. While many of these incidents take place in bigger cities with larger Asian-American populations, the hatred exists in Ohio too and we hear some of those stories on today’s show.

Up first, an Ohio House committee has finished its work on a revised state transportation budget bill, and moved it onto the full Ohio House for a vote.  

In the initial transportation budget proposal, Governor Mike DeWine had called for cutting state funding for public transportation by 90 percent — down to just to $7 million.

Thee committee made changes to the governor's proposal, including restoring proposed funding cuts.  The House transportation budget proposal would provide $97 million annually for public transit including a mix of state and federal funding. The negotiations over the transportation budget still have to go through the Ohio Senate  so we could still see additional changes.

The initial proposed steep cuts to public transit caught advocates by surprise.  Public transportation has continued to operate during the pandemic; providing services to workers in essential fields who still had to get back and forth from their jobs, while many other workers relocated to their homes to continue working. 

 Finally on today’s show, we know artists and arts and culture organizations have been greatly affected by the pandemic. 

The pandemic has also caused lots of engagement patterns to change; as museums and concert venues had to shut down or go virtual just to stay afloat.

That's why month ago ideastream conducted an arts and culture survey, as a way to check in with people about how the pandemic has affected their connections to the arts community, as well as finding where their interests lie.

The survey wanted to know whether you have started going online to engage with the arts, by streaming performances, or viewing virtual exhibits.

It asked what content you are most interested in hearing these days on our air and how you find our arts coverage.

  • India Birdsong, CEO and General Manager, Greater Cleveland RTA
  • Claudia Amrhein, CEO and General Manager, PARTA; President, Ohio Public Transit Association
  • Gabriel Kramer, Multiple Media Producer, ideastream
  • Carrie Wise, Managing Producer of Arts & Culture, ideastream
Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.