SALT LAKE COUNTY (ABC4) – According to Stop AAPI Hate, 3,795 incidents of hate speech or behavior against Asian Americans were documented by their reporting center between March 2020 and February 2021. However, the number is likely an undercount as there are a number of challenges and barriers that keep some victims from coming forward and filing a report. The spike in incidents partially comes from ill-informed and xenophobic misconceptions about Asian Americans and the blame they inherited from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Earlier this month, a 75-year-old Asian American man was assaulted and robbed in a vicious attack in Oakland, California’s Chinatown district. The severe injuries left the victim brain dead. On Tuesday evening, a 21-year-old white man went on a killing rampage in the Atlanta, Georgia area, murdering eight people, who were mostly Korean women at three different spas. Then on Wednesday morning, a 75-year-old woman clobbered her attacker after he punched her in the left eye while she was waiting to cross the street on San Francisco’s Market Street.

Although none of the incidents that have made national headlines occurred in Utah, local members of the state’s Asian American community are still feeling the emotional and mental impact of the wave of anti-Asian American sentiments, speech, and behavior. The rise in bigotry and violence highlights the historical dismissal of racism against Asian Americans, the sexualization of Asian American women, and the invisible discrimination caused by the “model minority” stereotype.

To explore these issues, ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen was joined by Rep. Karen Kwan of Taylorsville, Community Advocate Max Chang, and Dr. Kent Ono, Professor of Communication at the University of Utah for a live IN FOCUS panel discussion.

To watch the full IN FOCUS discussion with Rep. Kwan, Chang, and. Dr. Ono, click on the video at the top of the article.

Catch IN FOCUS discussions with ABC4’s Rosie Nguyen weeknights on the CW30 News at 7 p.m.

Rosie Nguyen is an award-winning journalist who joined the ABC4 News team as a reporter in January 2018. In September 2020, she embarked on a new journey as the anchor for the CW30 News at 7 p.m. Although she’s not out in the field anymore, she is continuing her passion for social justice and community issues through the nightly “In Focus” discussions.