I experience racism on an almost daily basis.
What does #asianhate look like exactly? Personally, most of it has come from Facebook and from people I know and have interacted with in-person in the past, not random comments from strangers. Passive, all encompassing statements.
“COVID is China’s fault.”
“Don’t cancel Dr Seuss.“
While these comments don’t attack me directly, when I read those statements I can’t help this uncomfortable feeling inside. I’m ‘from China‘. Do you think COVID is my fault? Dr Seuss drew me in a terrible way. Do you see that when you look at me?
And from one small unintentional post, I am reminded that I am different from you.
And that you don’t actually like people like me. And how can you like a country and people that brought you COVID. But COVID actually came from bats. But there are no bat jokes. No Bat Flu. There’s Kung Flu though. And sometimes, it feels like COVID is just an excuse. A way out. Like when you secretly say the N-word singing to a rap song in your car thinking no one’s listening. Now you can unleash your xenophobia because everyone thinks it’s OK. Because hey, it’s COVID.
Even I will concede, COVID was an irresponsible mismanagement on the part of many world leaders combined. The US should’ve shut their borders and flights and China should’ve done the same. But I’m not making shitty American puns though am I? But regardless of who is to blame…
Asians took the hit. Literally.
Wait, they got hit. And then they were massacred. By a kid “having a bad day.”
#AsianHate is telling your own kids that they aren’t American. Yup. We’ve had that talk. They asked why not. And I said because we’re Chinese. And then they asked well weren’t we born in the US, and of course I said yes. Then they asked, then why aren’t we American? And I had to tell them because you look Chinese, you will never be seen as an American. Then they asked if they were Canadian. And I said, no. Not that either. Can you ever imagine an immigrant family from any other non-Asian race telling their children that?
#AsianHate happens among us too. And we certainly aren’t just victims to racism, we sure as hell perpetuate it as well. There’s a hierarchy of Asians. There is definitely prejudice towards skin color among Asians. There are acceptable races we can marry and banned ones, sentiments often rooted from the memories our grandparents can’t erase of the wars they survived. But that is truly now almost 100 years ago, but imagine that in less time than that, the Japanese bombed Pear Harbor and the Americans nuked Hiroshima. Those atrocities can’t easily be forgotten nor forgiven and it’s understandable that that animosity is passed on to future generations. I was told to never trust the Japanese because their soldiers skewered children with their swords. And I’m sure she saw this first hand.
The hate that brews is deeply ingrained.
The mistrust, the fear of the other. The Asian war tactics, the Kamikaze bombers – their way of honor is so different than Western fighting. I’m not justifying hate. Merely, it stems from a deep-rooted history of war between our many countries and let’s face it, the Germans were just as awful, but it’s easier to spot an Asian than a Nazi right?
The subtleties of #AsianHate are insidious. It comes in the form of the rock in a sock attack against a local teacher in our Chinatown which isn’t a hate crime technically. Like the kid mouthing fuck you in class didn’t actually say it. Technically. #AsianHate isn’t blatant. It’s a co-worker bitching to you about how they let too many Chinese into the country (ummm… what do I look like to you?!) It’s your son coming home and saying we can’t buy toys Made in China because his friend’s dad says it’s cheaply made (and please don’t say it’s true because your damn iPhone and everything else is essentially made there). It’s friends posting videos and pages dedicated to bad Asian drivers in one breath, then an Asian arts festival in another (ummm what?) It’s getting sent racist memes or jokes from your own family, feeling weird about it and then being silenced when you speak up against it (#heyboomer)
#AsianHate stops when we stop.
Stop cowering in the shadows. Stop perpetuating our own stereotypes. Speak up, even when we have been ingrained culturally not to. It is stopping the narrative of hate and anger from happening right in our faces. In our actual daily lives and interactions. And it’s OK to ask questions, to open conversations.
Our kids are Generation Alpha. I say they’re generation AMAZING. They grew up in COVID, they grew up in a REVOLUTION where suddenly #BLM and #StopAsianHate is being brought to the forefront. It’s our chance to make right the generations of wrong that have accumulated to where we are today. Obviously the recent violence against our women and elderly are F-ing God-awful and it takes a real POS to prey on the most vulnerable of our society. I’m not detracting from that narrative. Donate! Support! Be our ally.
Don’t mistake meek for weak.
We are strong.
We can and must put an end to #AsianHate in all its forms. Because it starts in the home. In our own small circles. With what we teach our kids. It isn’t enough for them to not be assholes. We need them (and us) to speak up when someone is being a racist prick. Even if it’s someone you know and love.
This post was written by Joyce Poon, Founder of Noir Lash Lounge.
Photo by Robinson Greig