Tuesday morning, I was reading about and cheering on the first Asian American man (Steven Yeun) get nominated for a Best Actor Oscar. And by night fall.......Atlanta happened.
To guard my heart, I try not to read about the rise in Anti-Asian violence. The story about Noel Quintana, a Filipino American man who was attacked while in an NYC subway, or a Fil-Am vet, Angelo Quinto, who was killed while in police custody. The stories upon stories, seemingly not deemed "news worthy" but shared among the AAPI community.
There was a lot before covid; the microaggressions here and there (examples heard in my life: I hear Asians are good in bed. “Me love you long time,” “where are you really from?)” the "tokenism," the "fetishization of Asian women," and brazenly more in its wake.
So when Atlanta happened, suddenly it wasn't just the community that was talking, it was (is) everywhere. Suddenly, it's a "surprise," and someone's "bad day."
But then, how could you know something was wrong with the picture when the narrative has always been about the model minority myth and how racism towards Asian Americans isn't as "bad" -
When people “talk” about racism, it is both literally and figuratively a ‘black and white’ issue. How can we make space for people who look like me when we aren’t getting killed while sleeping *Breonna Taylor, or out on a jog? *Ahmaud Arbery
But as I write these words, I think about my elders, like my dad, who were innocently going on a walk in their neighborhood and being attacked. I think about storefronts vandalized; about leadership calling it the “China virus.”
Worse, I think about the Filipino nurses around the world who must endure the hate spewed on them, while treating those that hate them with the care. I think about this startling statistic "Filipino and Filipino American nurses are dying from COVID-19 at disproportionately high rates, accounting for more than 30 percent of the 205 U.S. nurses who have died, though the group makes up just 4 percent of the total nurse workforce, reports The Mercury News."
The Model Minority Myth - that Asians are hard working, keep your head down, and follow orders - tells me to keep silent.
To not stir the pot of discord.
To not stand out.
But how many more stories do I need to read?
How many stories do I need to tell?
I don't pretend to be an activist of any sort.
But I am a Mother advocate. And one of the victims was probably a mother.
All were someone’s daughter.
I am a Filipina - an immigrant - and I am raising an Asian daughter.
I am cringing about the words and innuendos, tokenism, and microaggressions that I know will come. I am praying for the hope that when she gets older, it'll be "different." But for it to be different, I must accept this heartache.
For it to be different, the landscape and narrative must change.
And I don't quite know where to start.
I have no words. I’m just tired of keeping my head down, tired of the noise that I know will disappear and return to silence.
I will be heartbroken and not be surprised when this all fades. Because it will.
They all do, eventually.
To me and I'm sure for all my Asian American Pacific Islander, and my black brothers and sisters, it feels like a lifetime of fighting that goes absolutely nowhere.
And for some, it’s just another day.
The National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (NAPAWF) is doing direct support and advocacy work for AAPI women and girls.
AAPI Women Lead which is an organization looking at the intersections between race and gender and focusing on gender-based violence and human trafficking.
Follow Stop AAPI Hate to help find other ways to support AAPI people facing horrific violence and relentless racism. Look for local organizations near you doing similar work.
Anti-Asian xenophobia and violence has had a long history in the United States, and is still enacted by the US government. Check out VietRISE
and the Asian Prisoner Support Committee - APSC to learn more.
I drink too much coffee, read too many books, and in between raising miracle babies, I find time to write.