I see you. I love you. I won't be silent again.
Reflecting on my role to #StopAsianHate & #EndAsianViolence
Somehow I vividly recall the confusion I first felt as a young teenager hearing an adult refer to a group of Asian men that they knew as their “Kung fu chop suey brothers”.
I believe that humans know right from wrong. We may not always have the tools to process what we’re encountering, but our souls can feel it when something wrong is going down. In this case, I may have been caught off guard, but I knew this sort of casual racism contributes to an erosion of seeing Asian people as fully human.
It took me over a decade before I called someone out for that sort of racist remark against Asian Americans.
Perhaps that is part of why I found it so amazing last year when so many teenagers and college students of various ethnicities stood up to confront racism in our country. I really admire the self-awareness of the youth of this generation.
At the age of 34, in a letter that he wrote from a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. King wrote,
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
It is vital to come to an awareness of our interconnectedness as humans. The earlier people come to internalize this concept the better-equipped we are to defend the dignity, humanity, and safety of our brothers and sisters. I still think about how I wish I understood this earlier… because words matter.
Even before the shooting in Atlanta last week, we had all read that Asian American hate crimes had gone up steadily in the past year. Attribution for this phenomenon in the United States was linked to the fact that we had a sitting President of the United States who chose to link a global pandemic to a people group. Having the largest microphone in the world and using it to actively spew language that erodes our ability to see each other as fully human is something that will take a long time for us to recover from.
Clearly kicking him off of the world stage was important for our ability to try to rebuild a national psyche that sees the dignity in all Americans, but pinning this rise in violence to him misses the bigger picture. It misses because anti-Asian sentiment lives on in the halls of Congress and because other people with large megaphones have been fomenting this same hate since well before Trump… but mostly because all of this builds off of a long history of racism against Asian Americans in the U.S.
Taking the time to understand this history is important to halting our national trend of sweeping it under the rug. We all need to come alongside our Asian-American brothers and sisters and commit to being active participants in defending their dignity and safety.
I won’t waste another opportunity to stand up for your humanity.
If you’re looking for ways to take action towards justice… here are some suggestions:
Participate in a bystander intervention training (there’s one coming up on March 29th)
Refer to this Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resources to Stand Against Racism (thanks to Asian Americans Advancing Justice for putting this together)
Here is a list of organizations working to support Asian Americans that you can donate to or take action with (you’ll have to swipe on the page to scroll through)
Report any attacks that you may witness at Stopaapihate.org
Support these GoFundMe for Atlanta victims’ families
I love you all.
P.P.S. We know the names of so many victims of racial violence from this past year. It is worth taking a minute to learn the Atlanta victim’s names and how to pronounce them.