Hyun Jung Grant
Xiaojie Emily Tan
Soon Chung Park
Yong Ae Yue
Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez
Paul Andre Michels
Though I doubt it, I hope some of these names are familiar to you. These are people killed in hate crimes against Asian Americans, plus those who were collateral damage, or perhaps guilty by association. The authorities are not calling the killings at the massage parlors in the Atlanta area hate crimes, but it’s hard to imagine they were anything else.
We Asian American have long been seen as either model minorities or perpetual foreigners, somehow less “American” than others, and easy to pick out because of our strange names, shifty Asian eyes, black hair. A foreign threat, complimented on our English, asked where we’re really from. We clearly can’t be real Americans, and we’re also now somehow responsible for COVID-19.
And because of that, most of us knew something like the Atlanta killings were going to happen, and that the killers would get mere slaps on the wrist. Because we knew that the previous killings of three elderly men made nary a primetime news cycle. Because Vincent Chin’s brutal beating death resulted no jail time for his killers. Because we reported an uptick in hate crimes starting in 2020 but it didn’t get national attention until a couple months ago. Because this country barred us from citizenship for 60 years and put us in concentration camps across the west, because we have been called unclean transmitters of disease, because airplane filled with refugees like us are refused permission to land.
We are not a virus. We are not the enemy. We’re people. We are natural-born and we are immigrants; we are laborers and we are skilled workers. We are rich and poor, tall and short, kind and cruel, interesting and boring, educated and uneducated, savvy and naïve, Christian and Buddhist and Muslim and atheist and Pastafarian. We are not Other.
So please, stop skipping over our names as “too exotic” when you read our resumes. Stop speaking. Very. Slowly. When. You. See. Us. Just accept it when we say we’re from and we say Seattle or Detroit or Poughkeepsie. Stop telling us you’re really into our food, our cartoons, our religions. Stop complimenting our English. Stop assuming we are not American. Please. We can’t address Asian hate until then.