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Dentist recounts racially charged comments directed toward her

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    ASHEVILLE, North Carolina (WLOS) — New research shows the COVID-19 pandemic fueled a rise in anti-Asian discrimination. While the two jurisdictions investigating the Atlanta spa shooting spree have not definitively called the killings hate crimes, advocacy groups like North Carolina Asian Americans Together noted the killings represented an anti-Asian sentiment that’s brewed over the last year.

Heather Lee’s parents originate from Southern Korea, but she was raised in Western North Carolina. Lee, the mom of a toddler, is also a business owner who runs a dentistry practice in Waynesville. Lee said she’s always felt safe in her immediate community.

But two months ago, Lee experienced her first affront with a racially charged comment, one that came from a new patient.

“She kept saying, ‘You’re Chinese. Oh, you’re Chinese.’ And kept talking about that. And as I was leaving, she turned to my assistant and said, ‘I hope that I don’t catch anything from her,'” Lee recalled, adding that she did not think the patient intended to offend her.

For Lee, the moment served as a “shocking” reminder of the rhetoric surrounding coronavirus.

Stop Asian American Pacific Islander Hate launched a reporting center in March 2020 in response to an increase in ethnic discrimination during the onset of the pandemic. The group published a report this week that compiles 3,795 incidents of anti- Asian discrimination. Data shows the most prominent offense is that of verbal harassment, making up 68%.

The authors of the study said their reporting only captures a small fraction of incidents against Asian-Americans.

“A lot of Asian-American hate crimes, for the victims, they’ve kept quiet. Sometimes, we are taught to just be quiet, keep to ourselves and put up with it and endure it,” former guidance counselor Bisset Parobek said.

Bisset said there’s a cultural pride attached to keeping your head high and staying silent in the face of adversity. However, she and Lee said they are encouraged by members of the younger generation speaking up and standing up for impartial and just treatment with the Asian-American communities.

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