On Anti-Asian Hate And How To Stay Safe

Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King quote, Asian Hate, Stop Asian Hate, Stop AAPI Hate, The Reality of AntiAsian Racism, Safety Tips for Asians

I had debated whether to write about this or not but to be honest this topic has been weighing heavily on mind lately. I'm sad and angry and I can't seem to concentrate when I try start anything else so I'm just going to get it out of my system. It's important and it doesn't seem like any other bloggers or creators of Asian descent are  weighing in some recent horrific incidents of Anti-Asian hate. Well just because something hasn't personally affected you, it doesn't make it any less real and choosing to act like it doesn't exist doesn't mean it will magically go away or shield you but whatever. I don't have that privilege and this is part of my life whether I like it or not. Since I've chosen not to engage in toxic positivity I will not ignore this issue just because it makes some people uncomfortable.

Since I wrote about the prevalence of Anti-Asian Hate last year, the number of anti-Asian hate incidents has continued to climb. The Stop AAPI (Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders) Hate organization has recorded more than 10,000 hate incidents since the start of the pandemic.These incidents include verbal slurs, shunning and physical attacks. The physical attacks range from beatings to pushing people out onto traffic, down stairs and subway tracks. A number of these attacks have resulted in severe physical injury and death. 

New York has seen the disturbingly biggest rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. On January 15 of this year, 40 year old Michelle Alyssa Go was waiting to catch a train at the Times Square subway station and as the train pulled into the station, a man who had been lurking behind her shoved Go onto the tracks. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The man fled, and surrendered to police a few hours later. He was charged with second-degree murder. On February 13, 35 year old Christina Yuna Lee took an Uber to her New York apartment in Chinatown. She unlocked her building’s main entrance and walked inside and a man who had been following her slipped in before the door closed. Lee walked  up to her sixth-floor apartment as the man hid himself following her. When Lee went to open the door to her apartment, the man attacked. Her neighbors heard her screams for help and called the police and when they arrived, the man imitated a woman's voice and told them they weren't needed. Emergency Services broke down the door and discovered Lee dead in her bathtub with over 40 stab wounds. The man was arrested and has since been charged with murder.

These two recent incidents hit especially close to home since they occurred in my city and the victims could have easily been me or someone I know. What makes these horrific incidents even worse is how the authorities and people on social media immediately question whether they are racially motivated anti-Asian hate crimes when they obviously are considering how the two women were specifically targeted. And then there are the people who center the assailants and worry about their mental state and how they need help. As someone who has been keeping a close watch on these incidents for almost two years, I can assure you that the gaslighting and sympathy shift from the victims to the perpetrators is something that keeps happening and only happens to when the victims are Asian. And even worse is that alot of this behavior comes from a faction of self loathing Asians who are more concerned about gaining clout and being perceived as politically correct than supporting their own community. There are some who have even gone as far as to blame these crimes on Asian men. Acting like this won't protect you from being attacked by the way because Asians are a monolith to anyone who wants to hate us and they won't care either way.

Days after Christine Lee's death, a memorial set up for her outside the building condemning anti-Asian hate was destroyed by vandals, who smashed candles and tore up a sign that said, “Stop Asian Hate.” That just drove home how isolated the Asian American community is in this country. The way hate crimes are questioned and brushed aside by law enforcement and government and how they are under reported on just illustrates how anti-Asian hate is increasingly becoming normalized and this is the consequence of inaction. That is really scary. Joe Biden's task force to address the concerns of the Asian American community has done nothing and those of us who are deeply concerned about this is injustice for years feel like we have been screaming into a vacuum as our concerns go unheard.

Anti-Asian hate has always been a part of America and the Western world in general and those who say otherwise are blind to it or don't care. This hate spurred by Sinophobia has escalated to a whole other level since the pandemic because of f hate-filled rhetoric and language around the origins of COVID. Our community is in pain, I'm in pain, my husband is in pain. I have come to terms with people hating me for merely existing but the recent violence is on a whole other level. I have already limited time outside because I haven't felt safe whenever I go out since 2020 and now I have to worry that someone might murder me because they're upset about COVID or just because I'm Asian. This occupies my thoughts whenever I step foot outside even in Chinatown because attacks have also occurred in our communities where we are supposed to be safe.

A disproportionate number of attacks have been directed at women which is no doubt fueled by some fetishisized fantasies about violence against Asian women. We need to be extra vigilant. Do not be complacent to think that this can never happen to you. In light of these recent incidents, I wanted to share some some safety tips that I use. These are applicable to those who live in urban areas. 

• Always be aware of your surroundings in public no matter where you are, even those places considered safe spaces.

•  Always be alert. Watching where you are going and scan your surroundings to identify potential problems before you end up in bad situations. Identify exit routes, safe places you might be able to duck into, and potential allies on the street

• Walk with purpose, confidence and alertness. Keep your chin up, eyes forward and keep a steady pace. 

• Keep your mobile phone handy but avoid using it. Being on the phone makes you less alert and more of a target.  You also want to keep your hands free.

• If you use headphones, turn off the noise-canceling feature or use transparency so you can hear what is going on around you. I like to wear headphones even if I don't turn them on sometimes because it deters catcalls and I can pretend I don’t hear people who try to bother me on the street. Listen out for footsteps behind you, rustling bushes, approaching cars, or even arguing voices near by. 

• Hold onto your bag firmly when you are walking or taking public transport. You can use it to hit an attacker if necessary.

• If someone confronts or profiles you because you’re Asian, safety should always be your first concern. Typically, the best self-defense is to not engage and quickly walk away from a provocation.

• Carry pepper spray with you, always and keep it handy. Learn how to use it and make sure it works. If an assailant comes at you, hold your arm out straight away from you and spray into their face. This should temporarily incapacitate them and you should RUN. I also carry a personal safety alarm.

• Always take main streets and roads and avoid isolated areas, alleys and closed off spaces. If you're out at night, try to stay near well lit places of business and well lit walk ways. 

• If you sense someone might be following you, try to get to a crowded area or open business and alert someone of the situation. If you can't. start screaming and banging on anything you can. the point is to make a scene and try to get them to leave you alone.

•  Enable location sharing on your phone and share your location with your partner, family or close friends so someone can always know where you are and track you if necessary. My husband tracks my location whenever I'm out and I track my mom.

• Don't stand anywhere near the curb when waiting to cross the street. Stand back on the sidewalk and watch for anyone coming up from behind you who may try to push you.

•  Don't ever post anything about your location on social media in real-time. You're just telling people where to find you. 

•  If you're taking the subway, don’t stand too close to the edge of the platform. If the platform has a wall, plant yourself in front of it with your back against the wall.  If the turnstile leads directly to the platform you can wait outside until the train is about arrive to get on the platform.

• If you can, try not take public transportation after dark especially if you're alone. 

• If you take a taxi or car service, text your location, the auto info, the service and the name of the driver to someone you trust when you board the vehicle . If you have a friend who lives in the same direction try to share a ride together.  You can ask nicely for your driver to wait until you walk inside the building before they go.

• If you are out especially if it's late, always share your location with your partner, family members or close friends so they can monitor where you are.

• Always have your keys in hand when getting ready to enter your building or house, don’t wait to try to find  them at the door. Pull or push the front door to make sure it is shut. Don’t let it slowly close on its own to give someone a chance to sneak in. 

•  If you are a single woman living alone, consider using a deadbolt on your door at home.

• Never let anyone into the building after you unless it's someone you know. 

• Don't buzz people in without finding out exactly who they are and where they are from. Check their credentials, if they are service people.

• If you were out with friends, let them know you got home safely and have them do the same.

• Learn some basic self defense skills.

• Always be on the defensive and go with your gut feeling. Do not be afraid what other people will think. If something feels off, do what you have to, to be safe.

I still wear a face mask because of COVID and as an extra measure of protection, I usually wear a baseball cap and sunglasses to try to hide myself to try to minimize getting targeted for being Asian. Going out comes with certain sense of visceral fear and anxiety for myself and many other Asians now. While I'm fortunate that I can work from home, this is not the case for everyone. My husband and I don't venture out much anymore and I haven't been out after dark in over a year. I'm just not in a place where I feel safe, now more than ever.

I'm not speaking about all of this because I want people to feel sorry for me or the Asian community but because I want to be an advocate. Being Asian is at the core of my identity and I stand in solidarity with my community. This blog gives me the privilege of having a platform where I can talk about things that matter. Real life isn't all pretty clothes, beauty products and showing off what you have on social media. Anti-Asian racism is very real and it can be very deadly. The sad truth is that Asians are an invisible minority in America and all forms of racism against us are too often pushed aside and normalized. It's dehumanizing and incredibly demoralizing. No one thinks about the Asian community and no one will advocate for us so we must advocate for ourselves. Please be aware and have some understanding and tolerance for the Asian community and what we are going through. If you witness an incident, be a good bystander. To the AAPI community, please stay safe, take care of yourselves as well as your physical and mental health. More on this issue and how you can help.

15 comments

Jackie Harrison said...

We live in an ignorant world with to many negative opinions. We all in this situation together and instead in focusing the best solution they prefer to focus in blaming and hurting innocents people who had nothing to do with the situation. I'm sorry you and your family have to experience this and not have the freedom in living in peace.

Steph-G said...

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
– Nelson Mandela (1994)

R's Rue said...

Thank you for sharing this. It’s important.

Ivana Džidić Split said...

You're right that it is necessarily to talk about the increase of Asian violence in the West. Sometimes people find it hard to speak about such items on their social media platforms because there are a lot of angry people online who might target them. However, silence won't solve the problems either, especially if media reporting on it is unprofessional or biased towards who ever is in power. Many people will always believe the media's or the official interpretation of events. I'm not a lawyer but it's incredible that a man who shoved an Asian woman under the train was charged with second degree murder as there's no way it wasn't meditated, a crime like that. It's very clearly a first degree murder and from the looks of it one that was racially motivated. I sometimes feel like political correctness is doing more harm than good because it is so easy to manipulate the general public by using certain words or sentiments. Take these incidents for example. Instead of talking about them openly, the media is trying to make it gaslight the victim by making it about the aggressor,essentially making it look like the victim doesn't matter. Mental illness cannot be behind all the incidents, can it? The numbers do not lie, there is a problem with xenophobia. I'm sorry to hear that the problems are escalating and that you cannot feel safe for yourself and your own family in your own country, that's terrible.

Sakuranko said...

This is so sad, the hate crimes always show a big issue in our society

Hena Tayeb said...

It is terrifying to read all these stories.
Stay safe.

Olivia said...

Such a strong article! Thank you for sharing!!!

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Emmylou said...

Thank you for this, Rowena. Honestly, I get so overwhelmed with all the evil going on in the world right now. Since COVID started, the rise of anti-Asian hate has really been outstanding and yet not really surprising:( I've seen these news from NYC and it's really heart-breaking. What's even more heart-breaking is that people are saying it's the mental health of these perpetrators that we should be concerned about? Like....really?!?!? You're using that excuse to explain the senseless death of two women?!?! Sometimes, I really do feel like there's no hope for our society.

Pilar said...

I heard about these heartbreaking stories on the news. It was just terrible. I sometimes ask myself what kind of world do we live in that such hatred and ignorance exists. I have to remember where there is bad there is good. I try to do good in this world. Thank you sharing your thoughts and awareness to this important subject.

Mica said...

It's so sad that things aren't getting better! My husband went to the US for work before the pandemic and he was really worried and unsure about things. he feels date here, I think Australia is very multi-cultural and he's never not felt welcome, but he was worried about racism in America. thankfully he was okay during his time there. It's one of the reasons why we decided to do Europe and Disneyland Paris rather than Disney in America when we travelled in 2019. I really wish things will get better. I know Australia certainly isn't perfect either but I hope that my kids can grow up to be a force for change, and just like us, not let anyone get away with these kinds of things.

I'm sorry you feel so unsafe right now.

Hope that your week is going well! The flood waters have gone down here so we are no longer flooded in which is awesome :)

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FashionRadi said...

Love the way this article is written and mostly the message it sends. Great work!

stylefrontier said...

it's so sad that racism is still happening now.
great to see your thoughts and tips for safety

I’m wishing you a wonderful weekend ahead

style frontier

Pablo Parra (Fungi) said...

Hi again, I wanted to check this blog post after reading the newest when you talked a little bit about this topic in the introduction.

It is sad to know that we have to take into account a lot of tips to stay safe. I imagine there's a similar situation with the violence against latin americans so I feel that I can understand a little bit. It also makes me sad and angry to see that the ignorance is still there. It is just heartbreaking but at least now there are some platforms to demand some actions and to start thinking in different possibilities to solve the problem. Sadly it seems that there is no hope but everytime I read posts like this and the heart warming comments I feel that there is a chance :)

Take care!
Pablo
www.HeyFungi.com

Jo Rashi said...

This is really a very strong and thoughtful article ...thanks for sharing dear...more power to you :-)
Beauty and Fashion/Glamansion/Rampdiary

Gingi said...

So much disturbing things in the news recently. I hope everyone stays safe out there, I can't even begin to understand how people can excuse such hate... - http://www.domesticgeekgirl.com