by: alexandra yun
Let me start off by saying that I don’t look like the stereotypical Asian. People can typically tell that I am mixed, but thanks in part to my half-Cuban side, my ethnic features are not noticeable enough for people to know that I am half-Korean. I need to include this disclaimer before I continue because although being white-passing sometimes allows me to have different experiences from other ethnic minorities, the hurt I feel is the same.
This past March was tough for me. Completely and utterly tough as I witnessed so many accounts of young and elderly Asians being targeted, discriminated against, abused, and even killed because of their ethnicity. The rise of Asian hate crime in America has jumped to nearly 150% in 2020. We all witnessed the rise of this at the beginning of the pandemic when President Trump had called COVID-19 the “China virus”, spewing discriminatory and hateful language toward the Asian community. This, of course, incited others to also explicitly express their hatred towards this group of people. Since, things just continue to spiral out of control with people physically assaulting Asians, even killing some.
I’ve had friends check up on me to make sure that my family and I are safe, and though while that touched my heart, it is disheartening to know that they even needed to reach out for such a reason. Similarly, I have personally texted several of my Asian friends to make sure that they are okay and safe. Even Asian acquaintances that I had only joked around with and never had serious conversations with, I made sure to check on them to make sure they were safe. The most disheartening call for me was the call I had to make to my Korean grandparents. I insisted that they should not go out as often, initially, because of the pandemic, but now because of the increase in hate crime towards people who look like them. I even pleaded with them to not speak Korean as much when they are out and about. It was hurtful for me to ask this of them. Given that this is their native language, it is their primary way of communicating with one another. And while I don’t speak much Korean, I do try my best to say certain words to them so they can better understand me. How do I tell them that they can’t speak their language because they could be targeted for a hate crime? Why should I even be doing so?
I understand my privilege as a “white-passing” Asian-American woman out here makes my experience different. However, the pain I feel is the same as other Asian-Americans. The horror and disgust that has been happening, especially to the elderly community, has been horrendous. And the people who walk by and just watch should be ashamed for not stepping in and protecting our community. Non People of Color want to take our culture, our movies, shows, music, food, etc. but when it comes to stepping up, they’re nowhere to be seen. Shame on them. We need people to stand and unite with us more than anything. Show us your support, whether it’s through intervening when we are being attacked verbally or physically or by going to support your local Asian business. The amount of vandalism on local Asian business properties I have seen is heartbreaking. Solidarity and support are what the community needs the most.
I am proud to be an Asian-American woman here in this country. I am proud of my Korean roots and I am proud of the roots I have in the United States. I am proud of the woman I’ve grown into from my strong Korean mother and her family. It is disgusting what is happening out here, but we will continue to raise our voice and let it be heard. We will show that we are not the meek and quiet “model minorities." We will yell and scream and make sure everyone hears and listen to what we have to say.
Stop the Asian Hate