Atalanta shooting on March 16th has left me with loaded feelings.
Racism towards Asian community members has always been around but I personally started noticing more when I became fluent in English and subtle cultural cues here in the U.S. and also in Europe. Sometimes it was in the form of micro-aggression, and people often brushed it off or excused it as they were just curious. But was it a “curiosity” when an elderly white woman marched up to me out of nowhere and asked me loudly, “where did you get the blonde baby?” when my blonde hair Coco was in my baby carrier in the grocery store? I’m not so sure. It certainly did not feel like it to me. Sometimes it’s the feeling that I get that I am not safe in the space (and it can be during broad daylight). Some incidents I shared with friends and others I kept to myself. After Atlanta shooting, I had a long chat with Frido and told him about incidents I hadn’t shared with him before. One of the incidents happened in Hamburg, Germany, two summers ago while we were canoeing through the waterway. We were going under a bridge, and people above us on the bridge made racist remarks about Asian people just loud enough. I heard it, but Frido and girls didn’t seem to have picked up, so I tucked my feelings under and moved on. After all, I didn’t want to sour the lovely day we were enjoying, and I never shared it with anyone. I also never felt safe to get out of the door in Hamburg by myself after the incident. I still did, but the nagging feelings were always there.
It made me wonder why I never talked about it and I think I understand a little more about the “why” now. Being made fun of being an Asian made me feel as if I were “less than,” and I felt talking about it would make me feel even more so.
I know that I am NOT “less than.” Nobody is. I know how to stand tall and keep my ground in many situations, and I also know that I bring positivity to the world by being myself. But even with the awareness, racism can creep into me.
And it hurts.
I share this because I want a better world for our kids. I share this because starting to talk about it is my way of breaking the common stereotype of Asian Women; quiet, submissive, and agreeable (and if you know me personally, you know that I am none of the above).
When someone comes up to us and shares the story that they/he/she feels treated differently because of the way they look, I hope we pause, listen, and stand with the person instead of brushing it off by saying it is because of curiosity, or the person is acting too sensitive.
I hope we learn history from 360 degrees, not just the one narrative that our society prefers to talk about (and conveniently eliminate some uncomfortable truths).
I hope we continue teaching our kids that we can feel many emotions, but it’s NEVER okay to harm others.
I am aware that my perspective is limited as a small slice of Asian American experience, but at the same time, it is my truth. And my heart continues to go towards the victims of the shooting and their families.