Within just one week, two prominent Asian cultural sites were vandalized. On January 2nd, the vandal tagged a mural on the outside of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, California. The mural was created by San Francisco-based artist Jenifer K. Wolford. It features speech bubbles with the names of prominent Asian-American artists in the Bay Area. Three days later, on January 5th, a vandal tore off every branch from two cherry blossom trees in front of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. Cherry blossom trees are symbolic of Japanese culture and those in front of the community center were originally planted in 1994 to commemorate a visit from the Emperor and Empress of Japan.

Considering the current social climate in the US, many have attributed these acts of vandalism to rising xenophobia in the West towards those of Asian descent ever since the Trump administration referred to the coronavirus as the “Chinese Virus.” Besides actual people, even cultural sites are now falling victim to hatred and xenophobia. Although efforts have been taken by authorities to curb racist attacks, like the establishment of task forces to support victims of hate crime, it looks like xenophobia is still on the rise.