Unprovoked attacks on Asian people in the U.S. have drastically risen over the past few months, with so many being reported that it’s hard to keep track. Asians have been assaulted, stabbed, and killed, with six Asian women among the eight who died in the March 16 Atlanta shootings.
Today The New Yorker revealed the cover for its next issue, which cleverly depicts the psychological impact such hate crimes have had on Asian Americans.
It’s a powerful image, and a heartbreaking punch to the gut.
Entitled “Delayed,” the illustration by artist shows an Asian woman holding her daughter’s hand as they wait on a subway platform. Simple and understated in design, the pair’s subtly wary body language and anxious expressions struck an all too familiar chord for many who have had to be similarly vigilant in public.
The poignant artwork has quickly spread on Twitter, with numerous people recognizing and praising its quiet tension and apprehension.
“The way R. Kikuo Johnson captures this moment and simultaneously breaks my heart,” wrote To All The Boys Loved Before author Jenny Han, whose tweet sharing the image has been liked nearly 13,000 times.
A few others who haven’t had the experience Johnson depicts expressed confusion as to what the artwork means — which has typically been followed by sick realization.
It’s representing the fear and anxiety Asian Americans are feeling in the wake of increased violent attacks. They’re waiting for the train, daughter leaning into her mom while she nervously checks the time.
— . (@blue_corolla) March 31, 2021
To find inspiration for his cover art, Johnson delved into the numerous reports of anti-Asian hate crimes that are occurring amidst the coronavirus pandemic. Being a mixed-race Asian man himself, Johnson found the reports “increasingly difficult to read.”
“So many mothers and grandmothers have been targeted,” said Johnson. “I imagined my own mom in that situation. I thought about my grandma and my aunt, who have been among my greatest sources of support. The mother in the drawing is made up of all these women.”
Earlier this March, advocacy group Stop AAPI Hate released a U.S. national report documenting in just the first two months of this year. In 2020 there were 3,292 reported incidents, as rhetoric around the coronavirus pandemic brought .
Yet while these numbers are already horrific, the actual number of anti-Asian attacks is . Comprehensive data on hate crimes against Asians unfortunately doesn’t exist, particularly as these incidents .
“The number of hate incidents reported to our center represent only a fraction of the number of hate incidents that actually occur,” noted Stop AAPI Hate.
“Fundamentally,” said Johnson, “I think the hope is to eradicate the idea that Asian bodies are inherently foreign.”