Well. I had plans to share more uplifting and fun posts but here we are.
You can read other people’s articles and watch other people’s videos if you want to understand why the hate crimes committed against the Asian American community is real, racially motivated, sustained through a horrible combination of white supremacy, ignorance, and… the audacity. No person of color wants to have to explain to white people why it hurts to see people of your community, who look like you or your family, get brutally attacked or murdered because of their race / ethnic background. No person of color should have to explain, with all the scientific knowledge available in 2021, how they’re not responsible for a virus, nor should they be a scapegoat for a global pandemic. No person of color wants to explain the specific ways they face discrimination, inequality, erasure, or harmful stereotyping, to prove that they exist.
And, no one wants to be the token ‘ethnic’ person responsible for educating their white peers about how to work through their racism.
I’ve never gotten shot and killed at in a spa, or gotten my head busted open in front of a grocery store, or kicked down at a bus stop in the middle of the night. Does that need to happen before we all recognize that an insidious, festering kind of hate and racism has been simmering, and has gotten out of control over the past year. Do more Asian grandmas need to be murdered in order for racism to be recognized and legitimate? That’s the yard stick we’re using to determine if Asian hate exists?
I feel uncomfortable writing this because it feels like I’m representing all Asian Americans, and I have to say the right thing. But I am just going to speak up for myself today.
What hurts the most when I hear about another Asian victim of violence is that they immediately remind me of my family. I first heard about these attacks from different instagram accounts in the Bay Area, where my family lives. I started seeing more stories in New York, like that Asian mom in Queens who was just food shopping in broad daylight, beaten to the ground, surrounded by bystanders who did not intervene. It scares me to imagine that those victims could have been people I love, and it breaks my heart that another person’s loved one was hurt or murdered for simply existing as they are, moving through their lives, doing their jobs, feeding their families.
It also hurts that it took so long for non-Asians to pay attention, and many Americans aren’t willing to make the connection between race and violence. Earlier this year, these attacks were taking place but they weren’t covered through major news networks – that took weeks of social media hashtags and prominent POC voices to elevate this issue. Another piece is that these acts and words of discrimination are probably being underreported – Asian Americans have survived by keeping a low profile. I’m glad this is now becoming a real conversation, it’s being addressed by the current White House administration, but how horrifying that it took a white domestic terrorist to get us there, not to mention a former president whose hate-filled rhetoric gave rise to their racist audacity in the first place.
As I mentioned before, I don’t think it’s right to only focus on how Asian Americans deserve not to be murdered as the benchmark for racial progress. Just like anyone else you know personally, each of us has an individual life story and dignity, we have a cultural background that may or may not be shared with you, and we are anchors in our families and communities. We deserve to be seen as whole people, to be respected and protected, to have our right to exist in the US recognized, to have a fair shot, and to USE OUR FUCKING OUTDOOR VOICES IF WE FEEL LIKE IT!
While I’ve been very low profile on social media for my own preservation, I can see that some of my white and POC friends, as well as some brands I follow, are posting their support and alliance with the Asian American community. I know it’s simple to post a hashtag or a photo, but it feels kind of like a virtual head nod and I appreciate seeing it. I especially love to see BIPOC post, sharing resources, and showing solidarity and support to each other. Of course there are differences in experience between different minority groups and movements, like Black Lives Matter, but there are also common themes when you’re confronted with white supremacy and racial violence.
In recent years, since being away from my own family, I’ve leaned into my cultural identity more than ever. I love being an Asian American woman. I delight in hearing my mother’s stories about growing up in Vietnam, and love that she speaks Chinese while I respond in English. I appreciate the physical features I used to want to change, like my eyelids which are neither mono or double lidded, my tiny boobs, and I find so much more inspiration in Korean and Chinese beauty trends simply because the girls look like me. I enjoy cooking the type of foods I grew up eating and I’m building up a wonderful collection of spices and sauces from the Asian supermarket up here. I respect Asian American women within my industry (and beyond) who are in leadership roles, and look forward to being one of those people. Finally, I’m so glad I grew up wearing slippers in the house like a proper Asian would, because they keep my feet clean.
Please stop hurting us. Please don’t be silent if you see someone hurting us. Please show your support to our community. And, please, stop asking me where I’m from. Like you, I’m from here.