The recent rise of verbal and physical attacks on Asian Americans has suddenly caught our attention. The coverage is everywhere – on 24-hour TV news programs and trending all over social media – and it has led to demonstrations and marches and the usual statements of regret and solidarity.   

But where have we been and why has it taken us so long? As our Asian American friends, neighbors and co-workers will tell us, they have suffered indignities and slights throughout their American experience, and yes, this has been exacerbated and fueled by racist and cruel comments related to COVID-19.

As we have all seen this past year, and as we all know too well from American and world history, hate speech creates real pain. Inevitably, if left unchecked and unchallenged, hate speech can embolden perpetrators to act, creating real divisiveness at a time when we must all come together.  

And our response previously? We have spoken out, but not loud enough. We have donated to worthy causes, but not nearly enough. We have come together as a community, but not tightly and swiftly enough.

When will it end? Only when we, through our words and actions, drown out the minority of voices who choose hate and violence over cooperation, community and love.

Maybe this time things will be different.