Why we need to talk about anti-Asian hate
What do we mean when we invoke the sinister oppression of silence? Why does it cut so deeply to the painful core of so many Asian American experiences?
Our “Creator Voices” series is a home for creators to reflect on their YouTube journey, how it’s impacted their lives, and what they’ve learned along the way.
Silence is a word you’ll hear Asian Americans grappling with in the wake of rising anti-AAPI attacks over the past year and the horrific murders in Atlanta on March 16th. It’s a central theme in my documentary as I urge viewers to engage in a more active, outspoken dialogue about the struggles the most vulnerable in our communities face that so often go unheard.
But what do we mean when we invoke the sinister oppression of silence? Why does it cut so deeply to the painful core of so many Asian American experiences? And when we do speak out, why does it so often feel like others are hearing us for the very first time?
Silence is the sound of erasure. The erasure of a complex, layered history of our forebears who came and contributed their sweat and blood to this country, only to be repaid in malice and manipulation. The Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. The spread of U.S. expansionism in the Asia-Pacific. The incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The brutal murder of Vincent Chin.
And today, the wrongful vilification of an entire group of people, solely based on race, for a worldwide pandemic.
Many of us rebelled loudly in the face of these atrocities, but the narrative of silence that was being written endured beyond the protests. The portrait of the servile, hard-working Asian - the model of “success” for all minorities - hung on the wall by those in power. An empty, shiny prop that erased the vast diversity of Asian American representation - gender, class, country of origin, to name a few - and weaponized us against other marginalized groups. Our safety and our identity, perverted by the notion that our value was intrinsically tied to silence.
It was all a dangerous lie.
Our silence is greeted with the hateful screams of those who view us as a foreign, disease-carrying menace.”
Because quiet is the way in which our elders navigate their daily walks. Quiet is how the working class women in massage parlors and salons and nail shops go about their exhaustive work. Quiet is what my parents practiced when they buried their own traumas, and quiet is what they raised me to believe was a vital asset for my survival. But what is that invisibility met with?
“Go back to where you came from!” The same exact chant, shouted by nativists in the 1800s, are echoed on the streets in 2021. Our silence is greeted with the hateful screams of those who view us as a foreign, disease-carrying menace. As objects of sexual desire. As somehow less American. Shameless racism, spewed in the public sphere, and ultimately spilling out as violence.
We need to talk, and keep talking, about anti-Asian hate.”
Today, we must meet that terrible noise with a rallying cry: loud, commanding, and prepared for conversation, no matter how challenging they might be. We must reexamine and reestablish our own personal relationships: within our families, between Asian communities, and across color and class, by speaking up, louder and prouder, than we ever have before.
If we are going to take back control over our story as Asian Americans, we have to find and share the words that will fill the silence that will no longer define us. We need to talk, and keep talking, about anti-Asian hate. And we’re going to be f**king heard.
If you can, please help uplift, empower, and protect our communities against rising anti-Asian attacks by donating to the GoFundMe.org AAPI Community Fund through YouTube’s Donate button or at http://gofundme.com/AAPI. Proceeds will be distributed to a vetted group of community, neighborhood, and victim organizations. You can also find ways to get involved with organizations like Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAAJ), a non-profit fighting for civil, human and legal rights and offering free victim and legal help in five Asian languages. #StopAsianHate
I hope that my documentary, at the very least, can help equip you with several points of discussion that contribute to systemic critique, actionable solutions, and ultimately, solidarity. #TalkAsianHate