S. Shyan never really identified herself as Chinese, an immigrant, or an Asian American.
Growing up in the Los Angeles area, the 45-year-old was used to living in a diverse community. She considered herself an American first and foremost. But that changed a few weeks ago.
Her roommate, with whom she decided to live to downsize her expenses, began making subtle comments about her race, tying her to the coronavirus. When she started volunteering to help certify COVID-19 test kits, Shyan, who didn’t want to share her full first name, said he attacked her, threatened her with a gun, and accused her of rigging the tests and being responsible for spreading the virus into the country.
Now, Shyan views herself as Asian American, one who is the victim of a hate crime.
“It was completely a hate crime because all he did was repeatedly say I’m Asian and this COVID thing this and this COVID test that, and he just wouldn’t let go. I was so shaken, I didn’t even know what to say to the police,” Shyan said.
Shyan was connected to the Washington Examiner through the advocacy group Asian Lives Matter, an initiative that aims to combat racism against Asian Americans and share peoples’ stories. Shyan said that she is currently working with local law enforcement and a legal team, which she preferred to keep private, on bringing charges.
Even before she says she was attacked, Shyan noticed an increase in passing glances and comments toward her since the start of the pandemic. Living in an area that’s home to one of the largest Asian American populations in the country, Shyan now feels a heightened sense of her identity.
“Over the past year, I’ve never felt this much hatred,” Shyan said.