I cannot stand this hashtag. I understand and support the sentiment behind it, but for some reason I find this hashtag to be alienating and uncomfortable. Probably because where I live, and as someone who is part Asian, I was unaware of ‘Asian hate.’ So, if anything, this hashtag has made me aware of the fact that I’ve been hated on for being Asian this whole time. It also acts as a weird dog whistle to white people – I bet they didn’t know that they hated Asian people until they saw this hashtag. It’s almost as though giving it a name gives it more life, more validity, more force. I just don’t want to see ‘hate’ and ‘Asians’ in the same line – the subliminal implications associate Asian and hatred in the same line, even though the hashtag purports to stop that. It’s counterproductive. I don’t like it. Is this how black people feel about white people waving around BLM flags? Because part of me is just like, “Huh? What? What are these white people talking about today?” Way to remind me that I’m different from you. It feels so disingenuous. Like white people are saying, “Hey, I noticed that you’re Asian, and that’s okay!” Bitch, what?!
Secondly, I do not fuck with the media narrative of what’s happening. About a month ago, there were a slew of robberies in Oakland China Town. The media jumped on it, claiming that they were hate crimes. But the community saw through that divisive and harmful narrative. Yes, it is true that crime in China Town is on the rise, but crime is on the rise throughout Oakland. There were a confluence of factors beyond race that made China Town a target – mostly because you have a bunch of elderly people who don’t like to call the cops and can’t defend themselves walking around with fat wads of cash to buy groceries. The media here tried to paint it as some sort of black versus Asian dynamic, but what a fucking lie! In the Bay Area, the black and Asian communities get along pretty well.
Which is why I’m skeptical now about the national narrative. This is, as usual, a story about white supremacy. We should be talking about white entitlement and white violence against pretty much anyone who isn’t them.
The Asian community is being presented as a monolith with this hashtag – lumping in everyone from India to Korea and beyond. I have a Filipina background, and, oh, boy, let me tell you – there is a fuck ton of racism just within the Asian community. Which is another reason why I’m skeptical – take a moment to read up on the imperial history of Japan and what it did to Korea and the Philippines and beyond. There’s something about being lumped into the same super category as the people who raped my ancestors that makes me feel like…meh. Colorism is a thing in Asia, too.
On the other hand, I am also part Mexican, and I haven’t forgotten about the kids in cages at the border. Anti-Asian hate crimes are a serious problem, but it seems like the media only has room for one racist narrative at a time. It’s almost like Asians have to compete with Latinos have to compete with Black people have to compete with Middle Eastern people for media attention on their problems – racial suffering is only allowed so much air time. Which is also problematic! All these problems are linked, but instead of reporting on the cause [white people] they shove the spectacle of racial violence down our throat.
The Asian community has always experienced racism. Anti-Asian racism is unique in that so much of it is masquerading as love, or an appreciation of Eastern culture, or a fondness for anime, or yoga as a hobby, or white girls dressed Kawaii, or the fetishization of Asian women. This isn’t anti-blackness, which is a systemic problem designed to keep black people out of positions of power and wealth. This isn’t anti-Muslim, which conflates a certain type of person with terrorism. If anything, the Asian community has had the most success acclimating to a predominantly white society. But even with that, they have not been spared violence and racism. Perhaps there is no amount of assimilation or cultural exchange that can protect a community from white violence. The object lesson here is: the victims were never the problem. Being different was never the problem. Otherness isn’t inherently objectionable – it’s the people who take credit for building this society that baked everyday racism into every corner of its fabric. They’re the ones who are wrong.
So, I see your hashtag, and it irritates me, but hopefully we can engage in more meaningful discourse around race. And by ‘more meaningful’ I mean can somebody please make something happen? Hello? Is anyone with power out there?