I can’t stop crying. Every time I get a handle on myself, something sets me off again.
In the latest act of violence against Asian Americans, 21-year-old white male Robert Aaron Long killed at least eight people in Atlanta, Georgia — of which six were Asian women — after going on a shooting spree in three separate Asian spas.
I did not expect the news to hit me so hard.
I didn’t cry when I wrote articles about the spike in anti-Asian violence. I didn’t cry when anti-Asian racism and xenophobia affected K-pop band BTS — the seven lights of my life.
I thought myself inured to the anti-Asian violence.
After all, it is not new. This is the true face of white America — racist, hateful, and murderous — and for too long, many of my fellow Asian Americans could lull ourselves into thinking that we were safe. Or, if not totally safe — safe-ish.
Safe-ish seemed an acceptable trade for our silence in so many unacceptable situations.
It’s not our fault.
My first coherent thought after I stopped sobbing was, “What is it about us that makes white men want to murder us?”
Even knowing it wasn’t my fault — our fault — any POC’s fault — but especially not WOC’s fault — I still couldn’t shake free of the framing an entire lifetime of being an American and a woman has given me. I couldn’t see past the Lie (capital L) of many different names: respectability politics, the Model Minority Myth, and rape culture.
But it’s not me. It’s not us. It’s not my Asianness at fault. It’s not my femaleness at fault.
I prefer the way my friend re-posited the question: “What is it about white men that makes them want to murder us?”
The fault lays with white men — not us.
What is it about white men?
I was doxxed at the end of last year by a white nationalist forum after an article I wrote for Scary Mommy (since taken down for my safety) went viral. I was swarmed on all my social media. White men from all over the world sent me death and rape threats. They made YouTube videos about me. They mocked my children, insulted my looks, and in general, went a bit unhinged. All because I had the audacity to say that I no longer wanted to make new white friends, especially white male friends, for… exactly this behavior.
What does it matter that a 42-year-old Asian American woman doesn’t want to be your friend? I wasn’t even saying anything new. Black folks have been saying this for years.
What makes white men feel as if I give two shits about their displeasure at my right to determine who I will or will not allow in my life?
I’m so tired.
But I don’t want to talk about white men. Fuck them. They burn all the oxygen out of a room.
What does this anti-Asian hate look like?
Let’s speak of how the most vulnerable populations of Asians are targeted — our elderly, our poor, our women, our children, and our small business owners. Let’s talk about how in a newly released STOP AAPI HATE report, there were almost 3,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans in the last year — and the majority of these were against Asian American women, reported at 2.3 times more than men.
These anti-Asian incidents include verbal harassment (68.1%), deliberate avoidance (20.5%), physical assault (11.1%), civil rights violations (8.5%), and online harassment (6.8%). Our kids (0- to 17-years-old) reported 12.6% of incidents and our seniors (60 years or older) reported 6.2%. Businesses were the predominant sites of discrimination at 35.4% with public streets and spaces coming in second at 25.3%.
Let us talk, too, of how Asians are not the only ones being affected by a bump in hate crimes. That Jewish, Black, Brown, Indigenous, and Middle Eastern folks also know the racism and hate lobbed at us for not being white.
But also, I don’t want to talk about anti-Asian violence anymore.
It is tempting to hide behind a wall of numbers and statistics. What’s that adage? A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic.
I want to cower and bury my feelings under facts and long-sanitized history. I want to go numb.
I don’t want to be the person screaming in pain so that white men — and white people in general — finally see me as a person. I should not have to beg to be considered human. I don’t want my pain commodified into trauma porn, a peculiar sort of entertainment for those under the delusion of White Savior Complex.
I am afraid that this rampant anti-Asian violence will become so normalized that it is no longer newsworthy. I am afraid that if the anti-Asian racism decreases, that Asian Americans will slink back to our apathy — our survival mechanisms of white adjacency and acceptable levels of safe-ish.
I am afraid it will confirm what I’ve long suspected: that no one cares about Asian folks — but not only because we’re Asian, but because America doesn’t give a fuck about people of color.
I want to wrap this piece neatly, providing readers info on how to support the Asian community, ending with uplifting hope, brilliant optimism, and searing lines.
Instead, I cry.