Violence against Asian people has been absolutely spiraling out of control in this country. I woke up this morning and read this article and I’m still shivering.
Imagine you are a mother in China and your daughter Christine is studying in the United States. Initially you might be reluctant to have this much distance between you and your daughter, but you know other families who have kids studying internationally in the US and it has been fine for them. Besides, your child lives in California where it should be more safe, right?
Your daughter graduates from college (she was 24 so maybe it was grad school). You are filled with joy and pride; all of the work you put in to make it to America and find more opportunities for your kids has paid off. She is just about to start her own life.
One morning you wake up and read on the news that someone ran over your daughter as she crossed a street with a friend, dragging her for 300ft. You read that her friend Isabelle died at the scene and that Christine died soon afterwards in a hospital.
And then you read that the police officers in charge of the case transferred it to “traffic”. “Traffic”. A driver saw Christine Yan and Isabelle Zhang on the street in front of their home, saw what they look like, and drove into them, dragging their bodies across the street, and its a “traffic” incident.
Now you have to withstand the unimaginable grief of a parent losing her child, and whats more, in a country far from home. You literally have to fly across the Pacific Ocean and organize a FUNERAL for your daughter. She was just starting her life.
She was 24. Do you know a 24 year old Chinese college student? I know I do. That could be *anyone*.
This was a hate crime, and it absolutely sickens me that stuff like this is happening every day and people are rationalizing it. “Didn’t China start this virus anyways” etc etc.
Listen to yourselves! Who’s side are you on? Hate crimes don’t pop out of nowhere. There is a perpetrator! And they aren’t always some scary “incel”, they are often what you would call “regular people”. “Regular people” who go on Facebook and Twitter and are inundated with racist memes and conservative spins on current events that ignore the truth.
The media’s portrayal of this trend of white people attacking Asian people has been so passive. Oh how sad Asian people are dying; anyways can we finally blame China for the pandemic (https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/12/08/election-is-over-can-we-finally-blame-china-pandemic/).
The only reason white people are attacking Asian people out of nowhere like this is because of narratives like this that scapegoat the entire Chinese diaspora for the actions of their government. If you had a conservative Facebook feed and just read that every day, you are being radicalized.
It’s incredible what the fetishization of Asian women and of Asians in general in the western consciousness has led to. Prior to all of these incidents it never occurred to me that one could go from fetishizing a race of people to literally murdering innocent people of that race, but I think I understand now.
Fetishization is DEHUMANIZING.
It’s *objectifying*. Think back to the killer of those Asian spa clerks in Atlanta (https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/03/18/us/atlanta-shootings-massage-spa). He was going to those spas for *sex*. When he decided that he didn’t want sex anymore, he decided to “dispose of his temptation” by murdering the spa workers. Because they were Asian and they were women, they were not human to him. He could have solved his problems by just not going there anymore, or by going to *therapy* (isn’t this what therapists are for?). But this is America where we solve our problems by purchasing guns and murdering people of color, and then the cops that arrest you said you were “Having a bad day” (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/jay-baker-atlanta-spa-shooting-suspect-bad-day-racist-covid-19-shirt/).
How is it possible that we are arguably the richest nation on Earth, literally FOUNDED by immigrants, and yet in 2021 a huge percentage of the population doesn’t even perceive people of color as *human*?
And why are we silent about this?
Are we ok with this? Are we ok with the dehumanization of Asian people leading to white people murdering them?
Lemme talk from the perspective of a Turk for a second here. In Turkish culture, you would NEVER lift a finger to an “elder” or anyone who is old. Grandfathers and grandmothers are the kingpins and queenpins of the family structure. They call the shots, you have to show *deference* to them. Just a few weeks back I saw footage of a white teenager running up to an elderly Asian man and pushing him to his death.
Is this American culture? That was someone’s grandfather, minding his own business. My Asian friends have told me that they are almost happy that the stay-at-home orders have kept their grandparents indoors in the family home, where they are safe. Think about how sad that sounds. We are finally going to get vaccinated and go outside, but Asian people are afraid that if their parents or grandparents go outside someone will murder them. Is this what we stand for?
Let’s talk about hate crimes. The people who perpetrate hate crimes didn’t come out of the womb racist. Something happened. Our society and social medias have created a racist narrative that we are shoving down conservative people’s throats which only pushes them farther to the right. Conservatives in other countries aren’t against nationalized healthcare, or a *livable* minimum wage! America is the industrialized country where we debate common sense with lunacy as if they are on equal footing.
The way we can stop hate crimes is by changing the narrative. We need to make it clear that xenophobia against Asian people is unacceptable, that fetishization of Asian women is unacceptable, and that passive reporting on Asian hate crime as if it just “happens” is unacceptable.
We need to stand together and condemn hate crimes, and make it very clear that rationalizing it or trying to understand things from the murderer’s perspective is wrong or at least should not be the focus. We need to be absolutely outraged.
If you are around the same age as me, remember that we are the future of this nation. If we want to put an end to white people killing Asian people, we have to remember that white people are the majority and are informed by the majority consensus. It is only when public opinion decides that not just White lives matter but the lives of people of color too will we see a reduction of hate crimes and white police officers attacking black men and all of that stuff that we put up seeing every day.
A long time ago I was in Turkey with relatives and my auntie decided to go out to the town at 11:00pm. Alarm bells went off in my head. “It’s not safe to go out at night, what will happen to us?” Well we went out to the night market, drank çay and ate some food, and hung out and it was fine. For what its worth, I felt safe.
You can’t do that here in America. The homicide rate is too high. You can’t feel save just walking around on the street, and I guess there aren’t really night markets either. And if you are a person of color, now you gotta worry about the police, the very people sworn to protect you, attacking you because you exist. It does not have to be this way. We are the future of this country: we can make it safe; we can make it fair; we don’t have to live with racism and hate crimes every day.
But we have to speak up! If we are silent, than anti-Asian narratives will dominate the airwaves, rationalize the hate crimes, and cause the reporting on these issues to be very passive because they are afraid of upsetting white people whose worldviews would be rocked too far by being told that Asian people matter.
I’m sick of being silent. I’m sick of watching the country around me spiral into violence as I’m taking finals (last quarter too with the violence that led to us having to do BLM). I’m sick of hearing the stories from my Asian friends about how they are scared for the lives of their parents.
It’s time to stand with Asian people and say that violence against Asian people and Pacific Islanders is unacceptable.
It’s time to rise and say that fetishization of Asian women or other forms of dehumanizing Asian people is unacceptable. It’s time to turn the narrative of this country around from “wow how sad asian people are dying” to “stop perpetrating violence against Asian people or any people of color”. It’s time to realize that we don’t have to live in a country so inundated with violence and racism; these issues are born from the public consciousness. If we treat each other with respect and condemn mindless violence, we can create a nation where people of all colors can walk around outside with their parents and grandparents and not be afraid of dying.
It’s time to #StopAAPIHate