I experienced anti-Asian racism in internal isolation

Only+recently+has+anti-Asian+hate+and+violence+been+in+the+media.+For+years%2C+Asian+families+have+had+to+suffer+that+xenophobia+in+isolation.+

Associated Press

Only recently has anti-Asian hate and violence been in the media. For years, Asian families have had to suffer that xenophobia in isolation.

By Hilary Nguyen, Carnegie Vanguard High School

On the evening of March 18, my parents sat me and my siblings down and told us that we need to be even more careful when going out now and that we are no longer in the clear. We had a similar talk around a year ago when the coronavirus emerged in the US. My parents told me and my siblings that we need to be careful because people are going to start hating Asians because of the pandemic. Growing up in a community that was very inclusive, I took my parents’ concerns lightly. I thought that no one would do that in a country that is so diverse, or would kill people over a virus. I was wrong.

The number of hate crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) is growing. According to the report forum Stop AAPI Hate, there have been around 3,800 racist or hate incidents against Asians in the past year. It is important to note that this statistic is not accurate as Asian hate crimes are underreported. On March 16, eight people- seven women, six Asian- fell victim to a country that allows hate crimes and racially motivated murders to occur.

The reason why I am mourning for parents that are not my own is that in the victims, I see my own parents. Their background and intentions to provide for their children resemble that of many Asian immigrants in America, including my parents. They left behind family and moved to a foreign country, learned a new language, assimilated themselves, kept their heads down so that their children could have the opportunities that they did not have, and give everything they have to us. I know that my parents live not for themselves, but for me and my siblings instead. The victims of the Atlanta spa shooting did not do anything to arouse the gunman. They were going on with their daily lives- some were working; others were getting massages. Victim Hyun Jung Kim was working when she was fatally shot. In a GoFundMe, her son Randy Park described her as a “mother who dedicated her whole life to providing for [Randy and his brother]”.

The same people who came to the States to provide better opportunities for their families are now in the headlines; their names are surrounded with words like, “murdered”, “senselessly pushed”, “attacked”, and “death”.  They have been attacked unprovoked. I connect with the grief of the families of the victims of the Atlanta spa shootings because I know that it could have been someone I know or one of my parents’ names in the headlines.

I’ve experienced this pain in silence and in solitude. Growing up, in hopes of being accepted by my peers, I did everything I could to assimilate myself.”

Whenever I talk about Asian hate crimes that have happened since the pandemic, it feels as though I am screaming into a void. Asian hate crimes started to occur when the pandemic started. Stop AAPI Hate received ”almost 100 reports daily” in the week of March 25, 2020. Despite this staggering figure, I never saw it covered in mainstream media before the Atlanta shooting. The only times I have seen people discussing the rise in hate crimes were on Instagram by other Asian-Americans.

I’ve experienced this pain in silence and in solitude. Growing up, in hopes of being accepted by my peers, I did everything I could to assimilate myself. I would eat my lunch behind my lunch kit, or not eat it at all at the lunch table, so that my classmates wouldn’t notice that my lunch was different from theirs. Whenever my parents spoke to me in Vietnamese, I would respond in English. The same pain I felt in elementary school returned when the pandemic arrived and is still here with me today. I often find myself asking “how come no one cares about us?” It seems to me as though the whole world is turning a blind eye. 

Regardless of who you are, please do not turn a blind eye to the xenophobia that is happening. Below are some  resources you can use to learn how to speak up against anti-Asian hate. 

Carrd: https://anti-asianviolenceresources.carrd.co/

Instagram Guides and Posts: https://www.instagram.com/nextshark/guide/help-stopasianhate-online-offline/18102751087220354/?igshid=l79cz0a21qqb

https://www.instagram.com/p/CNAHsFoDwOG/?igshid=1e16wajg0vzrj

Stop AAPI Hate post : https://www.instagram.com/p/CMfWksygWeU/?igshid=1bnzrebud9jqq

This story was originally published on Upstream News on April 9, 2021.