Stop Asian Hate

Stop AAPI Hate

It's been tough to get into a head space to write this post as there have been some compartmentalized personal feelings and trauma to unpack with it because while to the world, the violence against Asians has disturbingly escalated in the past year, anti-Asian racism has always been prevalent in America. I say this as an American born Cantonese/Taiwanese woman who was raised here. 

Last week, eight people were killed in a series of shooting across three Asian-owned spas in the Atlanta area. Six of the victims were Asian women. The shooter reportedly yelled, "I want to kill all Asians." It was obviously a hate crime rooted in racism and the reluctance by local law enforcement to call it that is demoralizing not to mention insulting. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been a significant increase in violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Stop AAPI Hate has collected over 3,800 reports of verbal abuse, harassment, and physical assaults against AAPI in the United States since March of last year. These unprovoked attacks are often violent with a vast number perpetrated against elders. A number have resulted in death. The most disturbing aspect of this apart from the horrific and heartbreaking violence is the lack of mainstream media attention and/or responsive calls to action up. It is only now that the violence has become so glaring that it has finally crossed the barrier into a national conversation that usually ignores the AAPI  community.

being Asian in America
Statement from Jeremy Lin

My first generation immigrant Taiwanese husband and I have been commiserating on our experiences growing up in the US while trying to process these events as well as the history of repressed personal pain it has reawakened. Any Asian American person with a healthy sense of self who has spent a significant amount of time in this country is not surprised that this is happening and has any number of racist experiences that we've long dissociated from as a means of coping. Anti-Asian and Asian American racism and xenophobia is not a new phenomenon to any of us.

Anti-Asian racism is ugly and it is rooted in American history (look up the Chinese Exclusion Act, Japanese internment, the murder of Vincent Chin, etc.). This racism manifests is not limited to physical violence. It includes verbal harassment, making fun of our names, our language, our culture, our food and telling us to go back to where we came from. They include the fetishization of Asian women and the emasculating of Asian men. It also includes microaggressions like minimizing us as well as our experiences and not recognizing us as Asian. Asking us where we are from and if the answer doesn't satisfy you, ask us where we are really from. Erasing our diverse communities and viewing us as a monolith is racism. And yes telling us we all look alike and you can't tell us apart is racism too.  Aside from physical violence, my husband and I have both experienced all of these. It's something you just learn to live with and internalize because when you speak up, you're usually just dismissed or met with indifference for being sensitive because it's not racist. Yes that happens all the time. Hence the repressed trauma. And we have always been mindful of avoiding certain places and regions in America because we are Asian. 
Excerpt from Eric Nam's Time Magazine Op Ed - 

The “model minority” stereotype is a problematic myth that surrounds Asian Americans. This imposed expectation that Asians, regardless of circumstance, are smart, wealthy, submissive, and hard-working is used to deny that racism occurs and ignore the poverty in our communities so resources such as economic relief, health care or public attention don't have to be provided. It's assumed that just living in America is a a privilege for us and for that we should never have anything to complain about. This is why shows like Bling Empire which continue to perpetuate certain stereotypes are so misleading and harmful. The truth is the average Asian is working class and does not even come close to living on generational wealth. My husband and I both had to practically raise ourselves because our single moms had to work long hours, even on weekends, just to provide for us. Growing up in poverty, we studied hard as we saw that as our only chance to rise up out of our circumstances. The victims of the shooting last week were murdered as they were working to support themselves and their families. 
being Asian in America
Excerpt from Steven Yeun's NY Times Magazine Interview -

This stereotype and the fact that Asians as group generally have a detrimental tendency to put our heads down and work hard to move past adversity rather than complain also contributes to us being the "invisible minority" An implicit acceptance of pain is acceptable in exchange for survival. While diverse, most Asians communities collectively possess strong family values and a societal sense of duty to respect  others. This is evidenced by how Asian countries have handled the pandemic and why mask wearing is not an issue in those societies. They inherently understand the importance of wearing masks to protect everyone. Asian children are taught to be respectful, considerate and not to talk back. This conditioning follows us into adulthood and we continue to be silent for fear taking up too much space so our racial trauma continues to be repressed, making it easy for us to continually be ignored.

NY Magazine
Excerpt from Kathleen Hou's New York Magazine Article -

Western society and the mainstream media by and large would rather diminish and erase us rather than face up to the brutal truth of the violence that we experience at both institutional and social levels. After all it's much easier and palatable to imagine that Asian communities have not suffered and have actually benefited living in a white supremacist world. Because of our long time silence, it becomes more of a challenge when we do try to speak up. Nobody is listening and nobody wants to believe us. In the past whenever I said anything negative about the US or talked something being racist, I would be ignored or gaslighted. That is what we experience when we speak out. When Jeremy Lin spoke up about how being an NBA veteran didn't protect him from racism and that he had been called "coronavirus" on the court, people didn't believe him and called him a liar. The incident was investigated by the G League and they identified the player who called him that by the way. If people don't even want to believe Jeremy Lin, what chance does the average person have. This feeling of invisibility and being demeaned and ignored takes a toll and is soul crushing in it’s own way.

As an Asian American woman, this past year has personally been painful and difficult to process. On top of the 150% increase in Asian Americans hate crime this past year, attacks against women occurred 2.3 times more than men between March 2020 to February 2021. Racism takes on many forms from silent judgement, to not acknowledging someone's culture to making them feel like they don't belong. Asian women also face fetishization and hyper sexualization and a stereotype that sees them as weak and submissive. This is another dehumanizing form of racism that intersects with sexism and misogyny to reinforce harmful stereotypes that puts women in danger of violence as well as a means for that violence to overlooked and erased, and legitimized. If I had a dollar for every time I was called "China doll" I'd be rich. I would actually take that over being followed by strange men making really rude and gross suggestions. That is why I never go out without headphones. Even if I don't always have something playing, they offer a layer of defense from these types of inappropriate come ons. 
Excerpt from Kathleen Hou's New York Magazine Article -

The Asian American community has been hurting for a long time. This rise in unprovoked violence creates an extra layer of fear on top of the anxiety, pain and grief we're already feeling. I have lived in NYC all my life and this is the first time I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder which is incredibly stressful. An Asian man was stabbed not too far from where we live just a few weeks ago. We get just about everything delivered and my husband and I simply don't go out anymore because we don’t want to be physically assaulted. When we have to, we take extra precautions as well as cover ourselves up so we can't be identified as Asians. I also carry a personal alarm and pepper spray with me now. My husband actually runs my errands for me because he doesn't want me to go out. I am extremely worried for my mom every time she has to go out. I track her the entire time and make her call me as soon as she gets home. This is not a way to live but until these threats cease, we don't really have a choice. We are angry and we are afraid right now. This is no way to have to live.

As it stands, there are still daily racially motivated incidents occurring in New York City and around the US. Just this week in New York, a 13 year old boy was attacked by a group of teenagers who hit him while yelling “Stupid f—ing Chinese, go back to your country,” an attacker yelled "you motherf***ing Asian" at a 68-year-old man before severely beating him on the subway train, an Asian Mom was punched in front of her child on way to an Anti-Asian violence protest  and a 54 year old Asian woman was hit in the face with a metal pipe by a man screaming "I came here to f**k up Asians" and an Asian woman was urinated on while riding the subway. And these are just the ones we've heard about. 

I've said before that we shouldn't ignore important issues just because they make us uncomfortable. Being Asian is at the core of my identity and this blog gives me a privilege of having a platform. Anti-Asian racism is very real and it is deadly. I wrote this to promote awareness, understanding and tolerance as well as to share resources. We should all continue to practice anti-racism and work toward more diversity and inclusion. To do that we need to acknowledge all marginalized communities. Reach out and check in with your AAPI friends to see how they’re doing. Remind them that you’re thinking of them and that you see them and listen if they want to talk. To the AAPI community, please stay safe, take care of yourselves as well as your physical and mental health. 
Stop Asian Hate
No matter who you are or where you live, there are ways you can stand in solidarity with the AAPI community. It can start with something as simple as listening, educating yourself, or supporting an organization that’s fighting to make a difference. 

Being a good ally requires listening with empathy and compassion. If they are comfortable enough to share their experiences of racism with you, it means you have a level of trust. Build on that by validating their injustice and pain, and offer to help report incidents, if necessary.  You can report incidents of microaggressions, bullying, harassment, hate speech, or violence against Asian American Pacific Islanders at STOP AAPI HATE.

Stop AAPI Hate, a group that tracks acts of discrimination and xenophobia against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, recommends these five safety steps: 
1.Take action. Go to the targeted person and offer support. 
2. Actively listen. Before you do anything, ask – and then respect the targeted person's response. If need be, keep an eye on the situation.
3. gnore attacker. Try using your voice, body language or distractions to de-escalate the situation (though use your judgment).
4. Accompany. Ask the targeted person to leave with you if whatever is going on escalates.
5. Offer emotional support. Find out how the targeted person is feeling and help them determine what to do next.

The first step to understanding should start with education. Consider these resources for learning about the history of Asian American discrimination in the U.S., how racist depictions of Asians have informed our thinking, and how we can confront hateful words or actions.

Hollaback! has partnered with Asian Americans Advancing Justice | AAJC to adapt their free bystander intervention training as well as offering a de-escalation training geared towards anti-Asian harassment, discrimination and violence.

If you’re ready to take a stand, consider donating your time or money to one of these worthy organizations that are supporting the AAPI community.

Another piece I wrote about standing up against racism last summer.


Ivana Split said...

The media handling of the shooting is shameful. Nobody (in the European or USA press that I've seen or read) is really speaking about the fact that the victims are Asian nor do they mention the rise in attacks on Asians in USA. They are trying to portray it as a gun problem (not saying that there isn't a gun problem, but they could share the whole story and for some reason they don't want to discuss Asian racism). The only place where I've seen this theme discussed is social media. I don't know details and I must admit that I haven't been keeping up with all the recent events, but from what I recall from the past and from what I read there has been a long history of Asian racism in USA. I think that often there is this notion that Asians don't face racism because statistically Asian families are doing well economically- but again that is only because they have the highest rate of graduating from high schools and Universities (much higher then other ethnic groups). So, it is not that Asians are doing well because there isn't a history of racism but rather because they are making the right choices economically, like investing in education. I learned this statistic from a Youtube video by a young African American women a few year ago and it stayed in my mind. Coupled with the recent events, I can see how something like that can sadly invoke jealously or resentment in twisted minds. Anyhow, having a degree doesn't really make anyone less vulnerable to verbal or physical attacks in the public. It is duty of every country to ensure some basic security to its citizens and when they fail to do that, the only right thing to do is to address the problem publicly. I think crime statistics speak for themselves. Nobody can deny a history of documented attacks of Asians. Even without doing any research, I can recall and think of several celebrities who have made shameful Asian hate comments...and wasn't Mark Wahlberg sentenced for physically attacking an Asian man years ago? As far as I remember, he never apologized for it. No celebrity that I can think of that has made racist comments against Asian has really suffered any serious damage to their public image. I'm very sorry to read that the situation is continuing to get worse and that your families as well as other Asian families are forced to continue living in fear in your own country.

Pilar said...

These acts of violence towards Asians are heartbreaking. I don't understand how anyone can mistreat and harass another person. No one should have to feel afraid to go outside their home due to possibly being attacked. Stay safe my friend.


In these times, even more so now than ever there is such an urgency to stand again injustice in all forms, racism/systemic racism has always been wrong and the enemy of justice. We must fight against it together, it is such a sickness. I hope you stay safe dear, Rowena. xo /Madison

Emmylou said...

When the news of the Georgia shooting came out, and that statement about the perpetrator just "having a bad day"...I couldn't believe it! It's a sad state we are living in now, chingu.:( My husband, born and bred here in Canada, goes through the same thing you do...being asked where he's from, and when he says Toronto, it's always followed by, "But no...where were you born?" And when he says Toronto, it's always "Where is your family originally from?" (I was born in the Philippines so I have a simpler answer, I guess...sigh) Like...really? A non-white person can be Canadian? Wut?!?!?
Anyway, it's been tough for many things going on that sometimes, I almost don't want the kids to go have a "normal" life just so that I can protect them here at home:(

Valerie said...

I was born in Japan (I'm half Japanese, half African-American), and I definitely experienced the type of racism you mentioned in the post. I can't even count how many times someone in the past as asked me inappropriate questions like where are you from or simply what are you? It is truly disheartening that we live in a world where people continue to treat each other with such disrespect. It is definitely a dangerous time, but I agree that it is important that we speak up! Thank you so much for sharing this post!

Kinga K. said...

Racism is awful..

R's Rue said...

Very important post.

FashionRadi said...

It is so sad that so much hate has been going on around the world. Hoping love wins in the end!

Doctor Anne said...

Thank you for taking the time to share both your personal experience and ways to be an ally. I am really sorry for all the hate and racism has been a part of our world for so long.

Mica said...

It's so hard to read and hear about things like this. I know that Australia isn't perfect, but I know I feel a lot safer for my family here. My husband (my in-laws are Malaysian) was greatly worried about his business trip to the US a few years ago as things are so hate filled there, he feels safer in Australia and I feel safer for my kids here. I know racism is a real thing and I do speak out about it and I do sadly see occurrences here, but it doesn't seem to be the scale it is in the US.

Thank you for sharing these scary experiences and your own experiences - I really hope you feel safer soon and that things change. This is not the kind of world I want my kids to grow up in :(

Away From The Blue

Unknown said...

Such a great topic! Thanks for sharing your personal experience.. STOP RACISM, please!
Kisses, Paola.


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Unknown said...

Wishing you a happy new week hun!
Kisses, Paola.


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Jackie Harrison said...

We all should be educated for all ethnic to stop this racism in general. It sad that now is against Asians absolutely ridiculous with all of the sources information we have in hand in order to learn and be more wise about other ethnic. We still deal with ignorant people that try to put fear in others and think is okay to harass and harmed.

Nancy Chan said...

Racism and hate is a dreadful disease.

Mariann Yip said...

This is really important. Thank you so much.

Lots of Love: Mariann Yip

LoveT. said...

Important Post, thank you for the right Words. Stop Racism.