This past week has been overwhelming to say the least. I am so sad for those whose lives were lost in the tragic Atlanta shooting. I am frustrated that conversations about radicalized misogyny and the dangers of Asian fetishization are just beginning to gain traction, when this is a conversation that Asian women have been talking about for years. I am angry that people are still debating whether these shootings were racially motivated. I am scared to be an Asian person in this country, with heightened vigilance, wondering when I will be the target of a stranger’s hatred. And I am heartened by the way the Asian American community and allies have come together in mutual support and against hate.
However, I have noticed a growing number of public posts from well-meaning white people who are trying to show their support to the Asian community but do so by discussing their Asian travels, exoticized fantasies, or loose connections to the Asian American community. While I appreciate the sentiment, white people, please stop centering yourselves in our pain. I saw a statement by a white adoptive parent, who stated that her dream was to adopt a child from China, not to have a white child. These fetishizing remarks contextualize the rise in hate crimes against Asians as a part of delegitimizing her dream rather than focusing on the needs of the AAPI community right now.
Other posts of attempted support have included study abroad or travel images. I don’t need to see a picture of you in China or read how much you fell in love with [Insert Asian Country] when you last traveled there. This would be similar to if someone posted a selfie from a South African safari vacation when posting in favor of the Black Lives Matter movement against police brutality in the U.S. It’s irrelevant and inappropriate. Moreover, travel pictures perpetuate the forever foreigner complex for Asian Americans and do not drive home the point that Asian Americans of various backgrounds, many of whom were born on U.S. soil and raised here their entire lives, are the victims of these rising racist attacks in the U.S.
To show your support, reach out to your Asian American friends and family members with genuine empathy and without asking us to explain our feelings, share our experiences, or re-traumatize ourselves. Donate to the victims’ families and organizations supporting the AAPI community and anti-racist efforts. And if you are truly supporting Asian Americans in other real world ways, post your support on social media by sharing about collective activism and rallies, community resources, alternative and forgotten histories of Asian Americans, and the words, narratives, and strength of Asian Americans who are sharing our voices without centering your own.
Asian American family, stay safe, stay strong, stay hopeful.
#stopasianhate #stopAAPIhate #stopAsianHateCrimes #StopWhiteSupremacy