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„It’s Random and It’s Everywhere”: NYC entrepreneurs grapple with relentless anti-Asian violence

David Ching opened his Guangzhou-style Hay Hay Roasted Chinese grill restaurant in Manhattan’s Chinatown on Mott Street in early 2021. After it opened, he closed his restaurant at 7 p.m., although he would have liked to welcome customers until 8 p.m. or later. Part of this was that Chinatown’s streets weren’t empty until after 7 p.m., but a more pressing concern was the continued rise in violence against Asians and Asian Americans in the United States

Since the restaurant opened, Ching has encouraged his eight employees to travel in groups whenever possible. Many of his employees commute from Brooklyn and Queens. If they close early, they will have more time to travel home safely. „They are of course afraid because of the increasing violence,” he says, referring to his staff. “You use the subway and hear about people being pushed onto the tracks. They fear becoming a victim of a hate crime. „

For many Asian and Asian-American restaurant owners in New York City, the murders of eight people Outside of Atlanta, Georgia – six of them women of Asian descent – has only reinforced what they have been saying for more than a year: The rise in violent, racial, and xenophobic attacks has made it increasingly untenable for them to continue operating their businesses while they are simultaneously affected by the pandemic downturn in the entire restaurant industry.

“What was just emerging and talking under our own way – on phone calls to our parents, on Asian-centric Instagram like Nextshark – is now violence so gross that it has finally crossed the barrier into the national conversation that is ours usually skips, „said Peter Tondreau and Victor Huang, co-owners of the popular hand-drawn noodle destination” Very Fresh Noodles „at Chelsea Market, in an email to Eater.

The duo said they were already aware of the discrimination against Asian-American companies before reopening their restaurant in Chelsea in June after a three-month hiatus due to the pandemic. However, after the reopening, the owners had to deal with it personally. Tondreau and Huang shared an incident in which a white man walked into their restaurant and asked one of their white employees, „Are you selling Corona?” When faced with the question, the customer said the man apologized by saying he had just woken up after a night of drinking.

While physical violence did not occur, the Very Fresh Noodles incident is part of a wider, sustained surge in discrimination and hatred against Asian Americans since at least January 2020, the same month as this one the first case of COVID-19 has been reported in the United States. The non-profit group Stop AI Hate recently released a report Between March 19, 2020 and February 28, 2021, there were 3,795 cases of hatred against Asian Americans and islanders in the Pacific in the United States. Asian-American women reported twice as many incidents as men during this time.

New York was the second largest country after California in the number of cases recorded in the United States. 517 cases of hatred were reported, compared with 1,691 in California. The group’s data includes incidents of bodily harm, verbal harassment, workplace discrimination and online harassment, among others. Verbal harassment and avoidance made up the largest proportion (more than 80 percent) of the incidents reported to Stop AI Hate. According to a reportNYC saw the largest increase in hate crimes against Asians among major US cities. 28 incidents were reported in 2020 and 3 incidents in 2019.

Still, many incidents of harassment and assault go unreported, and even fewer cases are classified as hate crimes in NYC. Joanne Kwong, the second generation family owner of the New York institution Pearl River Mart and newly opened Pearl River Mart Foods at Chelsea Market, says the discrimination against her employees started in January 2020, also because many masks long before the majority of the population Hateful comments and other incidents have occurred at all times and in many places in the US. „It’s not even like,” I’m going to be walking through this dangerous area, „says Kwong.” It’s just random and everywhere. It’s near home. Wherever your home is, I guarantee you it will has deteriorated. „

So far this year, there has been only one person in NYC prosecuted for an anti-Asian hate crime report despite repeated acts of violence against Asians and Asian Americans in the past three months. One of these incidents was a man attack an Asian woman outside a Flushing bakery in February; a week later was a Chinese man stabbed from a stranger in Manhattan. Neither have been prosecuted as a hate crime. On Tuesday March 16, a group of teenagers attacked a The 13-year-old Asian-American boy reportedly told him to „return to your country,” according to the NYPD, which has appointed its hate crime task force to investigate the matter.

The increasing violence against Asians and Asian Americans in the city is adding to the fear and insecurity of Asian restaurant and food business owners, who are struggling to keep operations going even during the pandemic. Art by Hay Hay Roasted, many other Asian-owned restaurants and businesses across the city have either cut their hours or asked staff to travel in groups for security reasons, including Pearl River Mart, Flushing Taiwanese Night Market-style Playdate, and The Collection from lively Janese restaurants such as Shabu-Tatsu and Curry-Ya, which are owned by the TIC Restaurant Group.

„We closed earlier than before the pandemic because it’s dangerous to walk the empty sidewalks,” said Sakura Yagi, TIC’s chief operating officer. “This has been the case since the beginning of the pandemic. What many people don’t get is that Asian companies have been affected differently from other companies from the start of the pandemic, as the virus has been classified as an Asian disease. „

Asian-American businesses have been hit early and hard over the past year as pedestrian traffic fell almost overnight while former President Trump used racist rhetoric such as the terms „kung flu” and „China virus” to avoid COVID-19 for the To describe nation. The restaurants in Manhattan’s Chinatown, including Nom Wah and Hwa Yuan, saw sales as early as 40 percent in the first week of February 2020. according to to Grub Street. Chinese restaurants in the city were forced to step up their delivery efforts due to a lack of dine-in customers long before the dining rooms were closed by the state. And it hasn’t stopped: Last week, Trump used the term „China Virus” again to refer to COVID-19 during a pear on Fox.

Given this growing crisis and the lack of significant changes over the past year, many Asian-American restaurant owners and stakeholders have made it their mission to combat the rise in violence and raise awareness of racist acts against Asians and Asian Americans. Nonprofit Organization Welcome to Chinatown is co-hosting one AI rally against hatred on Sunday, March 21, in Manhattan’s Columbus Park. #EnoughIsEnough, a project led by Eric Sze, the owner of 886, brought together restaurants in New York, including the Málà Project and Fish Cheeks, to donate meals to homeless shelters and people with food insecurity in the city in hopes of raising awareness sharpen for hate crimes.

“I think it’s important as New Yorkers and Americans to know that there are ways to combat what is going on, whether it’s lobbying elected leaders or helping companies make them better Paying for lighting and paying your employees to close at 6pm or 7pm is still feasible, ”says Kwong. “Just a friendly word or a supportive message means a lot because for months, especially during the pandemic, this was simply ignored. Every little advocacy anyone can make helps everyone. „