Before I checked the news that evening, I was having a great night with two virtual book launches and a phone call with a dear friend. The first book launch event celebrated the debut novel of one of my favorite local writing instructors and included some magic psychic poetry. Right after that, I attended another Zoom book launch to celebrate a friend's debut cookbook, which included a fun cooking demonstration. And then, I had a catch-up phone chat with yet another writer friend to discuss a collaborative storytelling project she is leading. It was a night to celebrate inspiring women sharing their voices, stories, and recipes.
And then I checked Twitter.
I don't know how to describe how I feel. Distraught? Outraged? Exhausted? Yes.
Is it the misogyny? Is it the racism? Is it the gun violence? Yes.
Minutes before the Georgia shootings, Stop AAPI Hate released a report that there have been 3,800 anti-Asian incidents in the past year. Most of those have been against women. Of the eight victims in the Georgia shootings, six are women of Asian descent. The Georgia killer said he has a sex addiction and that the shootings were not motivated by race.
Misogyny and racism are not mutually exclusive.
The AAPI women I know understand this. We are accustomed to being seen as perpetual foreigners and asked "Where are you from? No, really, where are you from?" As children, some of us were teased with "ching chong" chants. Later on, we were fetishized, exoticized and oversexualized: "Is it true what they say about Asian women?" We've been accosted and assaulted.
In the past year, we've heard our former president give speeches about "the China virus" or "kung flu." We've been worried about coughing or sneezing in public. We've been told, "Go back where you came from." We've worried about our elderly parents getting targeted when they are out in public.
Particularly for some of us with East Asian backgrounds, we were perceived as being part of the "model minority". We were expected to get good grades, achieve, and not make waves. We were considered "honorary Whites," which diminished and erased essential parts of us. We grew very sensitive social antennae to navigate our surroundings.
Some people, especially other BIPOC friends, have checked in on me and asked how they can support the AAPI community right now.Yesterday, I was too numb to think about anything specific. But I did email my city's mayor and ask him if he could put out a statement. He replied within four minutes that he was already on it.
If you are in a position of privilege or power, use it to help people who are vulnerable and don't have the resources you have.
We need solidarity.
We need words and we also need action.
We need people to speak up and stand up, not just for us but for every victim of injustice.