Asian hate also a problem in New Zealand - protest organiser

The organiser of a protest this weekend in Auckland against anti-Asian hate says it's not just an American problem.

"We actually see these brutal attacks happening to New Zealanders, and everyday racism as well is what contributes to these extreme events happening," Steph Tan told The AM Show on Friday.

On March 16, a gunman killed eight people in Atlanta, Georgia - six of them Asian women. The atrocity has sparked a movement, #StopAsianHate, that has spread around the world. 

Tan says it's not just about the shooting - there's been a massive increase in anti-Asian hate crimes in the past year, particularly in the US.

"A huge part of that is associated with the coronavirus blaming, in the sense that there's really harmful rhetoric like 'China virus' or 'kung flu', and then people see Asian faces and they choose that and target that and choose that to blame for the virus."

Former US President Donald Trump to this day calls the virus behind COVID-19 the 'China virus'. The World Health Organization discourages naming diseases after their suspected place of origin because of the stigma it can cause. 

Tan says she was subjected to "emotional racial abuse every single day" as a child, and while it's subsided for her as an adult, it's still far too common. A friend of hers was recently targeted while out walking her dogs.

"People said to their dogs, 'run away before she eats you'. That's a common notion."

Police will be at Saturday's protest at Aotea Square, wary of racist counter-protesters. It's set to begin at 3pm.

"It's to educate and show how the shootings, how the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes are not isolated in just America," said Tan. "It happens in all Western societies, and certainly New Zealand." 

Asked if New Zealanders are racist, Tan said many certainly are not.

"But there is a lot of racism that we have not brought to the surface yet. We see on the media that it happens in America and we think to ourselves, 'That's not us, we're not like that - why do we need to look at ourselves?' So people don't look internally, but then they don't realise that actually, we have everyday racism."