This past week has been filled with heartbreak, for those eight people who were killed in Atlanta and for those killed in Boulder. Gun control needs to happen now, but that's a topic for another day. Today, I want to highlight those six of the eight people murdered in Atlanta who are Asian or Asian American.
Anyone who isn't white suffers from racism. Some of those voices have been silent. I talked to someone I care about who is mixed race - Chinese and White. She never spoke out about the racism she experienced as a child because she thought it was normal, or at least she just thought it was a minor inconvenience until others spoke about their experiences and realized everyone who experienced that racism felt weird and uncomfortable too. It wasn't minor. It isn't minor.
In an Instagram post she wrote:
"Being a biracial Chinese woman offers its own complexities of identity (many of which I continue to reflect on and come to terms with). But I have always proudly claimed both of my names. They are mine.
I have watched, time and time again, as my mom, my family, my classmates, and my friends have sacrificed their given names to be here. I have listened to their names be mispronounced (sometimes on purpose), and made fun of. I have heard, verbatim in a college classroom, “Just pick an English name so that it’s easier for me to address you.” I have heard people butcher a given name, then ASSIGN an English name: “Well, I’m going to call you _____ instead.”
Names MEAN something. They are full of power. They are heritage. Story. Identity. Please pronounce them correctly. Ask and practice again and again, until you get it right.
The events in Atlanta this past week have opened up a flood of suppressed emotions within me. I am angry. Hurt. Exhausted. Sad.
But I am also so, so proud to be mixed. Proud to be Chinese. Proud to be Asian.
To the Atlanta victims, whose names we will never forget."
As a woman mentioned at the Against Anti-Asian Violence march and vigil I attended recently said, if we can pronounce "Arnold Schwarzenegger," "Shia Labeouf," and "Matthew McConaughey," we can pronounce Asian names. Practice. Every night I have been saying the Atlanta victims names - not just to honor them and their lives, but to practice.
I highly recommend reading about the history of anti-asian violence in the United States. History books leave out a lot. If you have even read about how history books are made, you know that they reflect the views of the state they are published in (i.e. conservative for Texas, etc).
I saw this post on Instagram and I think it is very important:
I still believe you should support local Asian-owned businesses, but if that is the only way you are pushing yourself to be anti-racist... it's not enough. We need to speak out when we see injustice on the streets, and face the shame and guilt inside of us to overcome our privilege.
Here are some important articles to read:
The Dehumanizing Logic of All the 'Happy Ending' Jokes by Anne Anlin Cheng by The Atlantic
"Watching law enforcement relay the explanation of the 21-year-old white man who admitted to the murderous rampage—he told police that he shot the women to try to eradicate “temptation”—was an exercise in both disbelief and recognition. It was a harsh reminder that these acts were a very real, very lethal manifestation of what goes unspoken behind all those seemingly harmless, supposedly flattering solicitations that dog Asian women: a profound disregard for them as people, an aggressive imputation of their imagined availability, and a deep assumption of racial and masculine prerogative."
I was attacked in NYC for being Asian. Here's how I am starting to heal. by Oranicha Jumreornvong by The Lily
"Soon after my assault, AAPI students petitioned our medical school to publicly condemn anti-Asian hate crimes. In response, the medical school’s student council sent out a statement about the rise in anti-Asian hate, with resources and guidance. But one line stuck out to me: “Importantly, our effort to provide safety for members of the AAPI community must not compromise the safety of BIPOC folk.” I felt my stomach drop. Are Asians not people of color?"
My Mother's Pain by Cynthia Dewi Oka by The Atlantic
"There is no panacea. Those who have the luxury of reducing us to their fantasies, or the hubris to seek to eliminate us, have put the lives of people like me, my sister, my mother, and my Asian women friends in danger for generations, not just here, but in the homelands so many of us were forced to flee as a consequence of American greed, fear, and desire to destroy."
Covering Anti-Asian Hate by Chinese Storytellers
"Since the shooting, I’ve heard from a lot of Asian American journalists: broadcasters who had the necessary language skills and cultural competency but were not assigned to cover the shooting; Asian writers who were told “are you sure your bias won’t show if you cover the topic” and “you might be too emotionally invested to cover this.” As someone who’s worked on improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the media workspace for six years, I see a parallel between Asian journalists today and Black journalists after George Floyd’s death. We are still invisible, often the only Asian in our entire newsroom, and talked down to."
The Truth About "The Asian Advantage" and "Model Minority Myth" by Sahra Vang Nguyen by HuffPost
"Why did I say “white agenda” and not just “capitalist agenda”? Because it’s the (white dominated) U.S. government that encourages migration of wealthy & skilled Asians into the country, while simultaneously positioning Asian Americans as a “threat” to others. In addition, white males dominate CEO seats of Fortune500 companies, white males dominate seats in Congress, white males dominate Hollywood director seats, white males dominate University presidential seats and white males dominate U.S. Presidential seats. I don’t even need to show you a bar graph to prove these correlations — just look around. Perhaps people should be talking about the “white advantage.
How can we recognize when the narrative, regardless of whatever claimed attempt to be nuanced or liberal, is actually forwarding a white supremacist agenda over everything else? When white liberals pat Asians on the back and say “Good job at being the model minority,” who does that ultimately serve?"
Artist R. Kikuo Johnson's illustration for the April 5 New Yorker cover "shows a woman and a young girl holding hands on a subway platform, their body language appearing to indicate a sense of unease."
The artist stated: “The position of the mother’s feet and eyebrows was what required the most finessing. I wanted a gesture that was somewhere between vigilant and fearful.”
He received praise for his art on Twitter, with one user, @wendyy_le, saying "idk if this will mean anything to anyone else but it’s the tennis shoes that hit home for me. 9/10 times when I leave my house I will be wearing shoes like these in case I need to run away or defend myself/someone else at any point in the grocery store/bank/etc."
I highly recommend visiting this website, iHollaback. They teach people how to intervene, as a bystander, to harassment. If you can't attend one of their trainings, then study up on the 5 D's of Bystander Intervention: Distract, Delegate, Document, Delay, and Direct.
Be safe out there.