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"Would somebody hurt me?": Korean-American mom answers 7-year-old daughter's questions on racism

There has a sharp rise in hate crimes against the Asian American community in America over the last year.

"Would somebody hurt me?": Korean-American mom answers 7-year-old daughter's questions on racism
Image source: YouTube screenshot/Reuters

Trigger warning: This story contains themes of racial violence including racial slurs that some readers may find distressing

There has been a sharp rise in hate crimes against the Asian-American community over the past year. Last month, eight people were killed after a gunman opened fire at three massage parlors in Atlanta. Of the eight people who died, six were of Asian descent. Stefany Stuber, a 40-year-old Korean-American who lives in Philadelphia, had an honest conversation with her seven-year-old daughter, Olivia, about hate crimes. “I really felt like this was a time for me to speak up and address the situation, address the fact that this has been happening forever, forever, and a day,” said Stuber, a bartender, reported Reuters. 


As with all children, Olivia was curious about the rise in hate crimes, especially after the attack in Atlanta. “She asked me why somebody would hurt people just because they were Asian,” said Stuber. “Would somebody want to hurt me just because of the way that I look?” Since the start of the pandemic, the rhetoric against the community has been on the rise. It didn't help matters that Trump, along with Republicans, constantly referred to the Coronavirus as the "China-flu." Over the last year, Asian-Americans have been demonized and attacked. 



Stuber was adopted by a white couple and was brought up in a predominantly white, conservative suburb in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The ignorance towards racism meant extended family members would give her "pet names" such as "Ching Wong" and "little konichiwa". “I do understand the underlying intentions behind it, but I also understand the ignorance behind it, and I understand how it made me feel,” Stuber said. Growing up in a conservative suburb also meant her exposure to Asian culture was limited. Stuber makes a conscious effort to teach Olivia about her Korean heritage. Stuber also addressed Olivia's questions about racism and discrimination even if the seven-year-old can't entirely comprehend the gravity of the issue. “I want her to understand things because I think, at least for me, understanding things is the first step to coming up with solutions,” said Stuber.


The trauma of being subjected to hate crimes can have serious repercussions on a person’s physical and mental wellbeing, said Dr. Michi Fu, a Los Angeles-based psychologist. Fu said most parents put off from discussing matters such as racism and discrimination because they "feel like they have to say something perfect.” Another parent said it was important they be aware of such discrimination, especially in the event they are subject to it. For Annie Lee, who hails from New York and has two kids, it's important to be aware of such threats. “I want them to have a normal childhood but at the same time I want them to protect themselves should anything happen,” said the 40-year-old Taiwanese-American.



The Biden administration is also taking concrete steps to counter the rising hate crimes against the Asian American and Pacific Islander communities in America. "Across our nation, an outpouring of grief and outrage continues at the horrific violence and xenophobia perpetrated against Asian American communities, especially Asian American women and girls," read a statement from the White House, reported NPR. "As President Biden said during his first prime time address, anti-Asian violence and xenophobia is wrong, it's un-American, and it must stop."

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