In more recent years, I’ve been reading a lot about our Asian American history, and here’s a reality that’s probably hard for a lot of us to face: Asian hate is embedded into this country’s story. The more I dug into the details, the more I realized how naive I’ve been to the injustices Asians have experienced in the United States. So much so that it has me saying sentences like “I’m not proud to be an American.”
I’m sorry if this offends some of my readers because I know being proud of this country is a bedrock for American culture. But when you really dig into the details and see the ways that Asians have been treated in this country (or even ways Americans have treated Asians in their own countries), the results are sickening. Disheartening.
Yet I want to be proud to be an American. I want to feel proud of the ways we are continually showing love and support for all cultures and all people groups in this country. America is a home for all immigrants. Not just white people.
I’m writing about this today in light of recent events that happened in Atlanta, Georgia. If you’re not aware, a shooting recently occurred where a white man killed eight people—six of them Asian women—in massage parlors. The man says that it wasn’t a hate crime or it wasn’t racist, blaming them instead for their sexual allure (still a hate crime). The country is shaken by it because the reality is our Asian brothers and sisters do not feel safe. And they are angry. They are hurt. They are feeling vulnerable. And many of them will still remain silent despite it.
Ever since the pandemic struck the United States in March 2020, Stop AAPI Hate—a nonprofit social organization protecting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders—reported 3,795 incidences of Asian discrimination. This includes verbal, online, and physical harassment, as well as violations of civil rights. A majority of them were women, and the Chinese were the largest ethnic group to experience such hate.
I’m pretty confident this number is inaccurate because I’m willing to bet there have been a lot more than these reported incidences. Because how many times have Asian Americans remained silent to harassment, scared for their lives? Scared to lose their jobs? Scared for their family’s protection? I know this number is so much bigger, and my heart is burdened with that reality.
For those who are Asian and are hurting this week, who have experienced any kind of hate in some way, I’m so, so sorry. You are a valued part of this country. Please don’t forget that.
What can we do?
Good question. I feel powerless because I wish there was more action I could take, and I am truly hoping for opportunities in the future where I can speak up and fight for this injustice. For now, here are some of the ways I am trying to support our Asian communities.
Supporting local Asian business. Restaurants, spas, boutiques, grocers, and so much more. Chinese restaurants, in particular, have experienced so much xenophobia since the pandemic, and they are really struggling. Here’s a piece I wrote about it to educate yourself.
Speak up for Asians in all circumstances. Don’t let people joke about them. Don’t let sly comments at family dinners or conversations with friends pass by. Call them out. Educate your communities.
Reach out to your Asian friends. Tell them you are here for them and you are grieving for what is happening. Ask them if they need help. Ask them if there are ways you can support them, their families, their friends, and their communities. This act may seem small, but it’s one of the most important.
Be engaged in your local community. Stop AAPI Hate has great resources on how you can act now and how to be a part of getting involved with civic change in your communities. From reaching out to your elected officials to advocating for civil rights, there’s a lot of work we can do for the people immediately around us.
Educate yourself. I know, it seems silly to say this because everyone’s all “I’ve been reading books and listening to podcasts” when it comes to educating yourself about racism in this country. But I do think these tools are vital in terms of learning about racism that you may not understand. My understanding of Asian American history has deepened over the past four years through these mediums. Even visiting the museums in New York, like the Museum of Chinese in America, have shown me how naive I am to Asian hate in this country.
Please share more ideas in the comments if you have any. Again, I’m sitting here feeling powerless because I want desperately to find more ways to support Asians in the United States. They are such a vital part of American culture.