As a bi-racial American of Asian and Black descent, I refuse to allow my fellow Asian Americans be a convenient scapegoat for this kind of division at a time when our collective cooperation is most needed. It is indecent and unjust for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs), who represent a wide, diverse, diaspora of people, to have to wither under a storm of physical assaults, hostile stares, xenophobia, shunning, and dismissive slurs.
For too long, the narrative of “yellow peril” and fear-based policies against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders has been used to justify racist policies from the Chinese Exclusion Act to Japanese internment to the Muslim travel ban. Or, when it’s convenient, the AAPI community has been elevated as the “model minority” to incorrectly disparage Black and Latino communities and support racist policies to justify inequity.
Now, Asian American communities are being used once again to create an enemy for the current health and economic crisis that plagues us today, leading to growing cases of anti-Asian hate documented every day. All are a grim reminder of the legacy of White supremacy that’s built into American life, that exists to tell me and my family that we do not belong and we should not work together.
But, I refuse to accept this. And I refuse to let this current President write that history for me.
Instead, I choose to look towards the Chinatowns, Little Tokyos, and Little Manilas where AAPIs across the country are actively fueling our economy, providing for one another, and contributing to the cultural fabric of our communities. I find inspiration from the Chinese-American community in Seattle that is actively drawing from its connections to help support a health care system that was so ill-prepared for this moment.
I support the quick mobilization by Chinese for Affirmative Action, Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (known as A3PCON), and San Francisco State University’s Asian American Studies Department to Stop AAPI Hate. I appreciate the acts of solidarity from leaders like Governor Newsom and Speaker Pelosi that continue to stand up against acts of hate. And most importantly, I draw inspiration from the social movements that came before that show me that when we stand together across communities, we can prevail.
But we must remain vigilant against the insidious nature of fear. This fear that tries to distract us from the incompetence of our federal government and the failure of decades of policies that led to inequities that are only now being further magnified by this pandemic. This fear that tells us to hold on more tightly to what's ours because we only exist in a zero sum game. This fear that tells us to stay silent.