Two weeks ago, I interviewed members of the Asian Student Association and the Multicultural Student Services Center about the recent spike in hate crimes towards Asian Americans. Some two weeks later, after President Biden called these attacks “un-American,” a domestic terrorist went on a killing spree and killed six Asian women because of his disgusting fetishism of the culture. I am not one to speak for all Asian Americans; I am just one man, but it led to an awful pain in my chest.
I don’t know how Asian stereotyping and racism became so prevalent. I don’t know why people think that any sort of racial bias and prejudice is acceptable in any context. For me, I allowed this behavior throughout my high school years so I felt as if I fit in more. I grew up in a very white New England town, only knowing a handful of people of color from my area. I am part-Korean on my mother’s side. My grandma was born there and immigrated here after she married my grandfather, who was stationed in Korea at the time.
From the time I was a child, I had kids making slanted eyes at me. I did not know what that meant. I did not know it was an insult. I had no idea that I looked any different from any of my peers. During high school, I was often called slurs, like “Gook” and “Chink” and often let it go and brushed it off as a joke, playing along as to not rain on other’s good times. I was even given the nickname “Chinkman” that was said so casually, you wouldn’t have realized it was a slur if you didn’t know better.
These words absolutely devastated me then and still do to this day. It made me feel ashamed inside, like my Korean heritage was something that I should be ashamed of, that it was a hindrance that held me back. I can’t say that I am the only one who experienced something like this. I do believe, however, that allowing this to happen while it tore me apart on the inside is an example of what allows people to think they can say such awful things.
I do not know exactly what can be done outside of educating people on this topic. Cody Chin of the Asian Student Association mentioned in our interview that calling the police was not the right thing to do, as it will not help the matters of the situation. Sure enough, on March 17, Capt. Jay Baker of Atlanta brushed off this man’s crimes as a “bad day” and blamed it on “sexual frustration.” Asian women are not some sort of submissive doll that will do whatever you want for them. They are strong and powerful and do not deal with nonsense from people who see them as objects for sex.
I would like to finish this off with a few more thoughts. The struggles of Asian people should not be compared to the struggles of any other minority, and that includes the phrase “Asian Lives Matter.” “Stop Asian Hate” is much more preferred as it brings attention to the crimes without trying to insert our struggle into the years-long struggle of “Black Lives Matter.” While I can not speak for everyone, I would like to say that my heart breaks for the families of the people who lost their lives in this domestic terrorism attack.