At a time like this, a lot of people are thinking “I don’t hate Asians, this movement doesn’t really apply to me”, or “Of course, Asians shouldn't be murdered”.
And this line of thinking would absolve you of taking any action.
But understand, the bar for #StopAsianHate has been set low.
If you want to do something meaningful, search yourself for anti-Asian sentiment. You may not think you harbor any, but history and popular culture are likely to have set deep, insidious roots in your mind.
Here are some simple ways to detect them.
For starters, read this tweet thread. It’s a compilation of Anti-Asian legislation and horrors conducted on American soil:
And much more.
Next, understand the stories of people who come from nations that have been painted as enemies of the state.
Sinophobia is on the rise, but Islamophobia has been around for decades before it. Americans as unfortunate collateral damage of US foreign policy is nothing new. Its re-emergence shouldn't surprise us, and there is much to learn from the stories of our Muslim brothers and sisters.
When you look at when anti-Muslim sentiment spiked between 2001 and 2013, it happened three times, but it wasn't around terrorist attacks. It was in the run up to the Iraq War and during two election cycles. So Islamophobia isn't just the natural response to Muslim terrorism as I would have expected. It can actually be a tool of public manipulation, eroding the very foundation of a free society, which is rational and well-informed citizens. Muslims are like canaries in the coal mine. We might be the first to feel it, but the toxic air of fear is harming us all.
Finally, understand the fabricated narrative of Asian women that has been told for over a hundred years in the West. It’s a story of hypersexualization and objectified desire, largely superimposed on Asian women without any understanding of them. It is dehumanizing and often leads to violence.
In the last few years, it seems that we are all too quick to forget the names of Ee Lee, Susie Zhao, Yingying Zhang, Quyen Ngoc Nguyen.
This topic is extremely pernicious and is the subtext of the Altanta spa massacre.
If you want to educate yourself on the evolution of this topic, I have found no better introduction than this video series (which I recommend watching on 1.5-2x speed). The video can be a bit dry at times, but it covers so much important history. Here is the first of three videos:
I believe we must educate ourselves before we start taking action.
For many Asian Americans, we are just beginning to understand anti-Asian sentiment in this country. Many of us believe that Asians do not face racism, or if we do, it's certainly not as bad as other people in this country.
Well, racism is a process of dehumanization, the relentless telling of stories that cast certain people as sub-human based on the color of their skin or the country they come from.
And when you study the history and the narratives about Asian people - that's exactly what you find. Stories of Asian lives being devalued, viewed as cheap and dirty, useful but disposable.
When it comes to Asians in America, we have - all of us (Asian or not) - been gaslit into believing the model minority myth.
Thank you for making it this far.
It was not too long ago, that I, myself - held many anti-Asian views in my subconscious. But when I started absorbing the wisdom of Civil Rights activists, I "got it".
You cannot hate the roots of the tree and not hate the tree
While my experiences are not the same as the Black Civil Rights leaders who helped me understand my self-prejudices, we have more in common than it might first appear. It's a commonality that demands solidarity.
Solidarity is not a feel good concept. It is the only way to combat racism. We cannot Stop Asian Hate without supporting Black Lives. We cannot affirm Black lives while practicing Russophobia, Antisemitism, or Islamophobia. If you can dehumanize one group in your heart, you can dehumanize any group.
Educating yourself on the history and experiences of other people is a major act of defiance to the narratives written by men long dead, narratives with so much inertia they continue to influence us to this day. We don't have to listen to their ignorant tales. We can listen to each other.
Much love, power, and respect to you.