Battling a New Wave of Racist Attacks
For many years in America, Asian American stereotypes were relatively common while our broader culture had few if any representations of Asian Americans as “people” and not caricatures or sources of cheap laughs. Even in our public schools, until recently, students did not learn about the Chinese Exclusion Acts, the internment of more than 120,000 American citizens of Japanese heritage during World War II, or other instances of institutional oppression against those of Asian backgrounds (Anti-Asian Racism).
Although this sense of invisibility has shifted in recent years, such that we see more positive and prevalent representations of Asian Americans as people in our broader culture, recent events have led many in the AAPI community to feel reminded that they are considered outsiders, foreign and a threat. As Americans are afraid for their safety and that of their loved ones, political leaders and pundits have exploited our current moment by spreading dangerous, xenophobic theories and untruths to blame China – and by extension, Asian Americans – for the COVID-19 crisis.
As these hateful individuals exploit their platforms to spread language, stereotypes and ill-placed humor implying that China is to blame for this crisis, they are acting in a way that is not only divisive and inaccurate but it is also racist and dangerous for over 21 million Asian Americans. Incidents of racist attacks and harassment have skyrocketed over the past couple months, ending in bodily harm and even death. At Edgility, we felt that as an organization committed to anti-racism and equity, we must actively denounce these deplorable acts of hate and discrimination, and highlight how destructive they are to the Asian American community.
From our very own team…
Two of our staff members who identify as Asian American offered to share how these trends are personally impacting them. Please read their reflections below. It is during times like these that we all need to be reminded that the measure of a country’s collective heart – and will – to fight for equity is not revealed in times of prosperity, but more so in times of crisis. In these times it is essential that those of us who are in positions of privilege actively interrupt and stand against these acts of hatred.
Best wishes for your health and that of your loved ones.
– Christina Greenberg and Allison Wyatt
Being Chinese American during the COVID-19 Pandemic (Serena Moy)
My new normal is waking up every morning wondering if I just had a nightmare. It usually takes me a few seconds to realize that the new day will look exactly like the one before and the one before that and so on and so on. I feel like I’m living out one of those scenes in the movie Groundhog Day.
My new normal is hesitancy to go to the grocery store and planning out my trips so I only need to go once every two weeks. When I do go, I make it a point to stay as far away from other people and get my shopping trip completed as quickly as possible.
My new normal is wondering, when I do go out, how others will perceive me. When that person looks at me, are they wondering “Oh, she’s Asian. Maybe she brought the Coronavirus to our community.” It is heartbreaking to read about the anti-Asian sentiment and violence inflicted upon innocent bystanders.
It is a weird space to live in these days, both physically and emotionally. And when this is all behind us, what residual sentiment will remain in the general public towards Asians? More than ever, this is not a time to be divisive but to come together as one global community, fighting a disease. COVID-19 does not discriminate. My hope is that people can do the same.
The Pain of Anti-Asian Racism (Ron Rapatalo)
Reading all of the news and posts about the increased anti-Asian racism has me a bit more on edge these days.
It brings back past pain.
I was called “ching-chong” as a kid. Being told I wasn’t attractive enough because of my eyes. Harassed by kids on my way to high school because I looked like an easy target. Excluded because “Wait, you mean your last name isn’t Italian?” (That convo to get into a magnet junior high school was cut really short).
Sometimes just being Filipino-American.
I didn’t always understand the reason but it often felt as if I was the perpetual foreigner.
Today, anti-Asian racism has resurfaced with a vengeance because of mistruths about who started COVID-19.
I now think twice about going outside. Maybe I should wear sunglasses and a hat.
- My AAPI fam, share your story. There is strength in us bringing light to what we have experienced. It matters. We also need to learn our own history of how our people came into the country (read Ronald Takaki) AND the histories of other people of color. Solidarity starts with understanding our histories and shared experiences.
- My non-AAPI POC fam, I am grateful many of you have been calling out anti-Asian racism. Many of you understand that racism is ultimately racism. While we may have experienced hurt at the hands of people of color at various times in our life, that is no excuse to stay silent or say “Now they [AAPIs] know what it feels like.”
- My white fam, yaw need to step up. Call out any anti-Asian sentiment when you are amongst white people. Check in with your AAPI fam to see how we are doing (and how you can be an ally to us).
Stay in power, fam.