“Eww! You’re eating WORMS!” NYC based influencer, Josephine, recounts kids at school making fun of the udon in her lunchbox. “I remember elementary school was particularly difficult. My lunch was always “disgusting” and “gross” to the other kids, but I never had the heart to tell my mom who always woke up early to cook my favorite Taiwanese foods. My last name was also the brunt of mockery and during roll call, teachers would call everyone’s last name, except for mine. I'd turn bright red and my insides would squirm. But I never spoke up. I grew up in a traditional Asian household where I was taught to keep my head down and not draw attention to myself. They’re making fun of you? Just let it pass and forget about it. You want to ask for help? Don’t be a burden and don’t show weakness. We’re conditioned to downplay our trauma and accept this as a natural part of ourselves and our culture.”
Images (banner & above): instagram @meldcole
This way of life is a product of America’s normalized racism. Our racial trauma is brushed off as “not that bad” compared to other minority groups and our successes are highlighted. But the reality is, we’re constantly asked where we’re really from, made fun of for the size of our eyes, and mocked for being hardworking and smart - a reminder that we’re different and we don’t belong here. Fueled by the former president’s xenophobic slurs like “Chinese virus” and “kung flu”, anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City have increased by 1,900% since the start of the pandemic and in January, an elderly Thai man was fatally assaulted in San Francisco. This is what it took for the media to care about our racial trauma. And the sad truth is that we don’t know the full extent of these hate crimes as many Asian Americans do not report them. We need to speak up and normalize conversations about the racial injustices we experience. Our stories matter and by continuing to share them, we can work together towards creating awareness and change.
Image: instagram @meldcole
Here are some ways you can proactively support yourself and our community.
1. If it happens to you, don’t take it personally
Racism is not a personal attack on you, but a manifestation of ignorance and prejudice. Don’t blame yourself or rationalize. Be objective and focus on taking care of yourself.
2. Interrupt racist comments
If you laugh or stay silent, it's assumed that you agree with what's been said. And you miss out on an opportunity to create awareness. What could you say? Here’s a list of responses.
3. Talk about it
Don't convince yourself that you're overreacting. If it bothers you, talk about it. Share your experience with a supportive group of people who will listen and empathize.
4. Post & share on social media
If you’re active on social media, use your platform to share content that speaks to the experiences of Asian Americans. Spreading awareness is the first step to creating change.
5. Have pride in our community
Learn about the history of Asian Americans and the work they're doing today. Explore Asian American artists, authors, activists, and entrepreneurs - they’re doing amazing things.