One of the most powerful ways to combat systemic inequities is to listen to those who were most impacted. We are incredibly grateful that some of our Equitas AAPI members took time to share with us how they are experiencing the tragic news of the recent murders of Asians in Atlanta, and we hope by listening we can continue making dents in the outside world as we refuse AAPI–and the inequities we’ve allowed against them as a nation–to be invisible anymore.
“My first reaction was shock, which quickly turned into fear, and slowly developed into hope. Hope that by naming what I need, entering spaces with the courage to speak, and creating space to listen to the stories of others, we can build a strong community of support.”
“It’s been disheartening and frustrating to see how many innocent Asians were senselessly targeted and victimized.”
“Sadness, outrage, confusion….but also optimism. Communities are speaking up and speaking out, wanting and needing to be heard. No more hiding, silence, and sweeping it aside. Next step is to act on those voices so they are continued to be heard..”
“Exhausted and Angry. I feel so lost when I see the surge of anti-asian violence. It makes me question the world we live in. It makes me want to cry. It makes me wonder: is my mom next? She’s seen the news and is scared to go outside. I see her right now, baking a cake while I answer this on the dinner table. I think, will she be on the news tomorrow?”
“Check in with your fellow AAPI friend, coworker, or family. Acknowledge the evil of these hates crime that has been occurring. Ask questions about how you can help and you can be informed/educated about their experience and culture. Listen, and don’t speak; listen to their experiences, feelings, and thoughts about all of this madness that is occurring. Empathize.”
“There are two thoughts that I have. First, is that I have never been more negatively aware of my ethnicity while in the U.S. Even though I went to a high school where I was one of two Asian students in my class, I have never been aware in this way. Second, I used to think “model minority” was a complementary stereotype, but now I see it as a way to set expectations on how Asians should be in America without really promising anything. So often we are asked “Where are you from?” or worse, “Where are you really from?” as if we all just arrived in America or as if our “home country” can’t be the U.S..”
“Ni hao! Where are you from? No, I know you’re from California, but really, where are you from? Like your parents?” I have gone through the entire cycle of grieving stages to cope with my own feelings, responding to these questions. In my early 20s, I was livid at the fact that anyone would even dare to ask me these questions. Not being able to overcome my irritation, I, at times, silently walked away from anyone who would utter those words to me.
After a couple years living outside of Koreatown, I realized maybe I should just be grateful that someone is curious about my culture. Halfway into an Ethnic Studies class in college, I’m exploding with anger again, with the realization that no matter what I do, I will be considered a foreigner in this country. But perhaps, instead of holding resentment, I should accept that and move on. What is the big deal anyway? So what if I get questions about where my parents are from? Shouldn’t I be proud to say where they’re from?
However, despite my desire to heal, dwell, reflect, and take the time I need to navigate my identity in this country, those questions appallingly quickly evolved into “Have you dated a white guy before?” Asked every time from someone desperately waiting to hear and gauge how open I would be to becoming their trophy Asian girlfriend. And with those 7 words, my personality and the experiences that I bring to the world—confused but certain, eccentric but complex—was once again flattened into someone’s exotification and fetishism.
We all need a holding space. Care from the community to hear and see us exactly the way we are. Ability to teach beyond the multicultural posters about Chinese New Year. To first learn about our history in America, before teaching a lesson about Asian Americans. To reach out to AAPI members, so that we can collectively heal from the deep trauma of living in this country. To hear how our voices have been silenced because we have been “statistically insignificant.” And, equally important, to push and challenge us so that we can also purge the white supremacy culture that lives within us, too”
“I think about the reasons why Asians don’t speak up more. Especially how sometimes the invisibleness of Asians could be just because people want to treat us how they think we want to be treated: invisible.
Personally, I feel why it’s been difficult for me to speak up and advocate for Asians as an Asian is probably the fear of rejection: the fear that should I finally choose to speak up against anti-asian hate, I would get, more than a few lip bites and head nods–perhaps even from those who’s publicly vowed to be anti-racist justice warriors.
The greater fear than having to suffer the unjust actions of a few is to see the people you know co-sign the harm done, in choosing to remain silent and allowing injustice to continue as is. Hate hurts communities; hypocritical hate destroys nations. “