The news is often plastered with incidents where Asian American elderly are being abused. I have not personally experienced anti-Asian hate, however, my mother experienced racism at her workplace. My mother works as a barber. Of the 5 employees I saw at her workplace, 3 were either Vietnamese or Chinese. One day, my mother’s boss, who is a Caucasian male, entered the shop to check in with the workers. He didn’t even bother to look at my mother or the other workers that were Asian. He only chatted with the Caucasian workers. This left my mother with many questions such as: If I were a different race, would he talk with me Was there a reason why he ignored me Is the reason he isn’t talking to me because he thinks I don’t understand English What if I could understand English Would it be any different
My mother’s experience shows that hate against Asians isn’t just through violence. It could be through isolation or being ignored. Just because hands weren’t thrown it doesn’t mean hate wasn’t shown. This often goes unnoticed as a microaggression, like a silly joke. Those “jokes” can be taken too far and harm others emotionally. This doesn’t just only apply to Asians but to all types of people.
Microaggressions against Asian Americans persisted before the pandemic and became more overt after and during the pandemic. Acts like saying an Asian person’s lunch is “gross” or mocking their accent and features. These comments are very hurtful for a person who originally was proud to be Asian. On the internet, many people shared that they would throw away their lunch or not eat it which resulted in starvation, feeling guilty, and many more mixed emotions. No one should ever feel this way. A place where they can’t represent their culture is not a place anyone would want to be in.
As for me, my experience was quite the opposite. When I was younger I would ponder about the life I could’ve had if I wasn’t Asian. Others’ eyes were so colorful with blue or green while mine were just brown. If my hair was blonde or lighter I would look more “normal”. Later on, I found out that just because I look different from them that doesn’t mean I am not as beautiful as them. I slowly loved that my hair was dark and shimmered in the sun. Just because my eyes were brown they weren’t any less pretty. I even thought if my family spoke English my life would be so much easier. However, how would I learn any other languages if my parents only spoke English I think it is important to be proud of your culture. Never forget where your roots came from or else the tree can’t continue to grow. If you don’t water the roots then the tree will be stunted. I love the food from my culture and I will never shelter it. My family never thought about hiding our food away because it smelled bad. No one should go through that.
This problem is growing in San Francisco as we see the increase in violence against Asian Americans, making them afraid to even walk outside. Last year on March 17, there was an elderly woman was attacked on Market Street in broad daylight. Incidents like this make me concerned for the safety of my community and my parents. I don’t think people should be discriminated against and/or attacked for their racial identity.
Now that these violent attacks are broadcasted on the news people are more aware of the situation. Publicity is a very important tool to address this issue. If we want to put an end to this hate we need to show and tell more people about it. We should also share the history of how our cultures came to exist in America. People should understand where these people came from and what they had endured to have a place here in the United States. Voices are also needed to bring more power in spreading awareness. We need elected officials who can represent Asian Americans and advocate for Asian American needs. Hopefully, with these changes, we can overcome this hatred as a community. A community where everyone has each other’s back is just what we need.
Xin Bei Quan, San Francisco