“Eight killed, including six Asian women, in Atlanta-area spa shootings…” The Washington Post. “A 75-year-old Asian woman… attacked in San Francisco.” CNN. “Fatal Attack on Thai Man in San Francisco…” The New York Times. Recently, it feels like every day there is a new racially charged act of violence against someone in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community. Why is it that I can’t even read all of the horrendous attacks before reaching the reading limit on news sites?
Anyone who is aware, even in the slightest, knows that anti-asian hate crimes have been on the rise recently. With the Covid-19 pandemic, people have begun to use Asians as a group to vent their anger and frustration with a pandemic, which the American government failed to handle. This disgusting trend in recent months has made me realize some things about my own identity as an Asian American.
As a half Japanese, half White person, I’ve always struggled with understanding my identity in terms of race. Sure, I could just go with what 23andMe says and just end the conversation there — genetics are concrete numbers which tell me exactly how much of me is Asian and how much is not — but I never really felt like I was a part of the Asian community. In fact, I’ve realized that I’ve always announced my Asian identity when convenient, but right when the circumstances change its back to being White.
I’ve rarely faced racism directed towards me at any point in my life, and it has only come in the form of subtle comments or jokes. For example, someone once made a joke about me eating my dog because I’m Asian, and of course I got offended, but I didn’t respond by telling this person that I found their joke to be insensitive. Rather, I found it easier to just cling to the fact that I’m white, saying “I’m literally white too.” As a bi-racial person I’ve always taken the easy route by running from the challenges that Asians typically face, and now that I am realizing this, I’m starting to see how much of a let-down I’ve been to the Asian community. I’m ashamed of how proud I was to say “I’m a son of an asian immigrant” one second, but then be so willing to drop the label as soon as it becomes inconvenient. What’s worse, I have begun to notice that I’m not the only one who does this. I can name a lot of full Asians who happily express their race, but then remain passive when it comes time to defend themselves and their people from racism. Anyone who has the slightest respect for themselves must be willing to stand up for their own right to be treated equally and be willing to stand by their race through thick and thin.
But in the wake of the recent attacks against the AAPI community, it’s no longer possible to ignore the racism, which the Asian community faces. It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Asians are being killed left and right. The level of hate in this country has reached a point which no one can ignore. Not only Asians, but everyone must band together to eradicate AAPI hate, one of the nastiest diseases to ever infect this country. If mass shootings wouldn’t be enough to compel you to fight back, then what will?