We are at a moment in our national reckoning over race in which racism against Asians is finally in the spotlight, despite having existed for ages. I am so devastated by the thousands of racist attacks on Asians in the past year and grief-stricken over the killings of eight people at spas in Atlanta on Tuesday, six of them Asian women.
We have since learned they were former elementary school teachers, US Army brides, mothers and sisters and friends, just like so many of us.
“I cried all day,” my friend Lucy texted me. “They could have been my mom, they could have been my sister.” We Asian Americans and especially Asian women have been reaching out and supporting one another always, but never more obviously and visibly than this week.
These past week was fear, anxiety and hangover symptoms all mixed into one feeling. I was intermittently hyperactive and adrenaline-fueled, despairing and exhausted and fried and scattered in-between. I don’t know how they’ve done it, but some scholars and writers have managed to put the complicated racial dynamics for Asians and Asian women into important historical and socio-economic context. Here are the readings I recommend:
The Deep American Roots of the Atlanta Shootings, by May Jeong in the New York Times
“Anti-Asian violence is also anti-women violence, anti-poor violence, and anti-sex-work violence, our fates are entwined.”
Why This Wave of Anti-Asian Racism Feels Different, by Cathy Park Hong in The Atlantic
“The act of violence itself is wrong. You cannot excuse it. I think many Asian Americans have never talked about it, and so white people still don’t believe that Asian Americans face racism. Because we’re invisible, the racism against us has also been invisible.”
Racism, sexism must be considered in Atlanta case, by Kimmy Yam for NBC News
“Killing Asian American women to eliminate a man’s temptation speaks to the history of the objectification of Asian women, whose value is only in relation to men’s fantasies… akin to ‘I raped her bc her skirt was too short.'”
A Letter to My Fellow Asian Women Whose Hearts Are Still Breaking, by R.O. Kwon in Vanity Fair
“Still and always, hypersexualized, ignored, gaslit, marginalized, and disrespected as we’ve been, I am so fortified, so alive, when I’m with us.”
My Son Is Bullying His Asian Classmate About the Pandemic, How Should We Punish His Racism? Advice column from Nicole Chung, in Slate
“Resisting racist scapegoating of the type we’ve seen directed at Asians requires more than the passive hope or assumption that your kid won’t hear such hateful things or believe them.”