Being Asian American in the United States Today
Okay, here it goes. I’m working on starting a side hustle, and what comes with starting a side hustle, is extra visibility. However, with the most recent outbreaks of violence towards Asian Americans, I want nothing more than to curl up under an invisibility cloak. I generally try not to burden people with my fears. And in most cases, I believe voicing concerns should never be viewed as burdens on others at all. Instead they should be seen as a lesson or an open opportunity to learn from another person.
This past weekend has me scared to be independent…again. Let me explain.
When Covid-19 first began, I was afraid like everyone else. It was a global emergency and no one had clear answers for our future. But I became more afraid when the former president of the United States coined it the “China Flu” and “KungFlu”. These nicknames led to an open invitation to those who felt that violence against Asian Americans was acceptable.
I was once a completely independent woman, unafraid to do almost anything alone. I’d go to the gym, go shopping, go for walks or jogs — all on my own. But now, my home is the only place I feel I am safe. My husband drives the car when we go out, I wear sunglasses when I can to hide my eyes, and he answers the door if people come to our house.
Growing up, I experienced racism in the form of small micro aggressions — a lot, and still do. It was something I dealt with in silence. My entire family is caucasian, and I remember it being a lonely realization once I understood that my being Asian was never going to be something they could ever fully relate to. My family is beyond understanding, and I am so grateful for them. But being a different race and living with the differences everyday, is entirely different than living alongside it.
Since Covid-19, I only truly saw my race being a factor a couple times. At our bi-weekly shopping trips, there were times a couple people would leave the aisle I was in, or start walking the other way after a whisper and a look from one another, then to me. My husband noticed more occasions than I did, but I have learned to tunnel vision.
Sometimes I would get dead cold stares from people who had their masks half on. They would look at me with piercing looks of disgust of my being in the same grocery store as them, in the same country.
Here’s the thing, not only am I a U.S. citizen, but I also haven’t been to China in years. These facts however, are not things I feel I need to tell strangers, ever. In fact, it’s none of their business.
Violent incidents surface in my news feeds daily now and add to my fear of leaving my home. People are being violently assaulted, spit on, and threatened. I’ve become more affected than I’d like to admit, as if fear is somehow bad or weak. Let me tell you right now, it isn’t either of those things, it’s human.
The world has turned upside down on empathy and understanding. It’s somehow cool to show off your hatred for others. I hope when my children come into this world, I can say I helped educate others, for myself, for them, and for our safety.
My heart goes out to the recent losses and those who are affected by the recent shooting in Atlanta, GA.
My advice to people: be better, listen to other people’s experiences, and learn from them and through them. Everyone has some room for growth and everyone has a story worth listening to.