I am deeply disturbed by the recent hate crimes against AAPIs (Asian American & Pacific Islanders) tied to discrimination/blame for the coronavirus. Particularly the shooting at a spa in Atlanta today with 8 killed (mostly Asian women)…I blew up with a bomb of emotions: anger, grief, anxiety, helplessness. This just broke my heart and I felt called to write here on the blog.
Lately I haven’t been sleeping well. I’ve been waking up from nightmares imagining men breaking into my apartment and trying to hurt me. I’ve literally been waking up sweating and running to the door to make sure it’s locked. I can’t take a walk in peace anymore as I constantly have my guard up. I fear for my safety and my family’s…
My earliest memory of racism was when I was a kid. I was at Chinese school playing soccer with friends and a group of white kids came over and threw rocks at us. This affected me so deeply and I remember growing up feeling ashamed I was not white. Kids in elementary school would ask me why my eyes were smaller than theirs while mockingly pulling their eyes wide. I grew up in a town where being Asian was not particularly popular.
In college when I dated my first white boy, I asked my friend: “is it weird that I always think I’m “less” than him because he’s white?” Thank god she called me out: “umm…Charlotte, you are definitely equal to him even though you’re not white.” Those few words changed my world as I started a journey to discover my identity as an Asian American and eventually learned to love and embrace my background. I am a proud to be a Chinese American as a daughter of loving, hard-working immigrant parents.
I think people need to realize racism comes in forms you might not even realize. Whether it’s strangers saying “ni hao” without knowing anything about me, or people joking that we all look the same, or getting passed for a promotion because I was “too aggressive in achieving results” when Asian women are assumed to be soft-spoken, or even men fetishizing Asian women as sexual figures. This is what drove the Atlanta shooter to commit his hate crime – because he wanted to “eliminate sexual temptation.” This was straight up racism at its ugliest – racist/misogynistic beliefs that white men are entitled to Asian women’s bodies. One time I was staying at a hostel and a dude with Asian-fever wouldn’t take “no” for an answer, and I woke up to him over my bed touching me inappropriately…
The sad thing is, I feel like no one talked about AAPI racism against until recently. While I am SO happy to see people finally raising their voice now – folks need to remember that Asian Americans have been experiencing racism and hate for literally decades (see the Japanese internment camps in WW2 and 1992 LA riots against Koreans). An attack on one person is an attack on a whole community, as it immobilizes so many people with anxiety and terror.
We have been experiencing hate our whole lives and haven’t spoken up until now. Coming from immigrant families, the goal was always to stay under the radar and to not stand out. Well that is no more.
We will make noise. We will take up space. We belong.
This feeling of hate is so dangerous. Today is the first time in a long time I really felt that word from the bottom of my heart. I truly hated the deranged white man who killed those 8 people. I hated the police officers who justified the white killer by saying he had a “sex addiction.” I hated all those memories of white people making me feel less than.
But I know hate is even more dangerous than a virus. It takes courage to rise above hate and channel it in productive ways: make noise, speak about this topic, protest, donate, share stories, listen, cry, vent on this blog…
My sincerest thoughts go to the families who lost loved ones today. ❤