I was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the Asian American community’s presence is very much prominent. Growing up, the Bay Area’s bubble of diversity felt like a shield to me, against the fact that anti-Asian hate and violence is much more common than I perceived it to be. I’ve always known that anti-Asian racism exists, but it was never something at the forefront of my mind.
This was also how 75-year-old Amadeo Quindara felt before he was attacked by his neighbor. On May 30, Quindara was brutally beaten and verbally attacked with racist slurs by his neighbor, Christian Lentz. Quindara was relaxing in his garage when Lentz first left verbal scars on Quindara. And after returning 30 minutes later, Lentz left physical ones as well — punching and kicking the 75-year-old until he remained bruised and bloodied. Lentz was arrested for residential burglary and has long been released since the incident — currently residing back at home.
In an interview with KTNV, Quindara recalled the incident with tears in his eyes — stating he knew such hate existed but thought it would never happen to him. Whenever I read about anti-Asian violence, I worry about the elders in my own family. The case of Quindara made me realize that no matter how safe one may think they are, prejudice inevitably exists everywhere — sometimes even in those you may view as your neighbors.
Violence and prejudice against Asian Americans has always existed, even in hubs of diversity like my hometown in the Bay Area. However, since the start of the COVID pandemic, we’ve seen the rates of Asian hate crimes within the U.S. rise exponentially. According to one study, 76% of Asian American youth surveyed indicated feeling less safe now than before the pandemic, and two-thirds reported their depressive symptoms have increased since the pandemic started.
While the Asian American community is evidently feeling the effects of this rise in hate crimes, many organizations that uplift the community and keep it safe have started to surface. For instance, Compassion in San Gabriel Valley is an all-volunteer organization created in the aftermath of the Atlanta spa shooting. They provide volunteer chaperones for community members who request the service. The group is made up of young adults — many are college students or people in their 20s and 30s. There’s also an original affinity group in Oakland — Compassion in Oakland. Similarly, Oakland’s Chinatown formed volunteer patrol groups in 2021 after violent attacks against elderly residents spiked. These night patrols have since expanded to also look after local businesses.
In many Asian American communities, we’re taught to treat our elders with honor and the utmost respect. That’s particularly why hate and violence against them hurts in a different way than if it were to be enacted on us as young people. It’s gutting that hate and violence persist against my community, but seeing people organize — putting together marches or fundraisers, does offer a sense of comfort. I think it shows just how resilient Asian Americans are.
Kami Bataclan, (she/her) is a proud Filipinx-American high school student from the Bay Area.
Edited by Amber Ly