Asian-Americans Voice on Anti-Asian Violence
Jiayang Fan writes for the New Yorker:
A senseless massacre can be painfully clarifying about the state of a country. As the killing of George Floyd and countless other African-Americans have made clear, structural racism has become simultaneously mundane and pathological. The incendiary rhetoric of a racist former President combined with the desperation stoked by an unprecedented pandemic has underscored the precariousness of a minority’s provisional existence in the U.S. To live through this period as an Asian-American is to feel defenseless against a virus as well as a virulent strain of scapegoating. It is to feel trapped in an American tragedy while being denied the legitimacy of being an American.
May Jeong writes for the New York Times:
[T]he Asian woman became an object of hatred, and lust, a thing to loathe, then desire, the distance between yellow peril and yellow fever measured in flashes.
Việt Thanh Nguyễn and Janelle Wong write for the Washington Post:
Still, history tells us something important: The experience of racial discrimination does not happen for any group in isolation; white supremacy depends on pitting people of color against one another so they do not see their shared cause. Racial profiling does not stem from the same stereotypes for Asian Americans, Black people, Muslims and other groups, but it serves a common purpose — to define who is essential and who belongs to the nation. The case of Asian Americans shows the varied ways in which the boundaries of belonging are enforced through old ideas that circulate over generations. The best way to keep Asian Americans safe is for the United States to improve its economy and promote global equality for everyone, without fearmongering about the countries their ancestors left.
Jennifer Ho writes for CNN:
To be an Asian woman in America means you can’t just be what you are: a fully enfranchised human being. It means you are a blank screen on which others project their stories, especially, too often, their sexualized fantasies—because US culture has long presented Asian women as sexualized objects for White male enjoyment.
This happened when Chinese immigrant women first came to the US in the 19th century, kidnapped or bought for sale in China and shipped to America, or tricked into sexual servitude when the domestic worker jobs they were promised disappeared and the only job they could get was to have sex with men for money. They did not get to keep the money. That went to the men who bound them, sometimes in cages—forcing them to have sex with men. Many of these women died of disease, malnourishment, and abuse without being released from their sexual servitude –that’s the founding story of Asian women in America.
Christine Ahn, Terry K Park and Kathleen Richards write for the Nation:
Shortly after the mass killing in Georgia—including six Asian women—earlier this week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken denounced the violence, saying it “has no place in America or anywhere.” Blinken made the comments during his first major overseas trip to Asia with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, where Blinken warned China that the United States will push back against its “coercion and aggression,” and Austin cautioned North Korea that the United States was ready to “fight tonight.”
Yet such hawkish rhetoric against China—which was initially spread by Donald Trump and other Republicans around the coronavirus—has directly contributed to rising anti-Asian violence across the country. In fact, it’s reflective of a long history of US foreign policy in Asia centered on domination and violence, fueled by racism. Belittling and dehumanizing Asians has helped justify endless wars and the expansion of US militarism. And this has deadly consequences for Asians and Asian Americans, especially women.
R.O. Kwon writes for Vanity Fair:
We’ve had to yell so loudly to even get national media and politicians to begin to believe there might be a real problem. I wept, as many of you did, the day last March when the previous president started calling it a “Chinese virus,” because we knew exactly what would happen as a result, the hatred those paired words would incite. We have been told this is new, that we haven’t really experienced racism, all while our entire existence in this country has been twisted, shaped, and contorted by forces like the 1875 Page Act, which halted the immigration of Chinese women on the stated pretext that they, we, were immoral. Were temptations. All while the Asia–ravaging forces of white supremacy, imperialism, and colonialism drove our people here, to this land our ancestors would not recognize.
May-Lee Chai writes for the LA Times:
The fact that Asian women are punished for the ways white supremacy hypersexualizes our bodies is not unfamiliar to me. I was 13 or 14 years old when white veterans first started coming up to me to tell me stories of the sex workers in Asia. When I complained to my mother, who was white, she would get angry at me, for complaining. “Oh, they like you!” she said. When I shared this story with other white women in college, they reacted with envy, “It’s not fair! They think you’re exotic.”
Pawan Dhingra writes for the Conversation:
There is a long history of suspecting Asian Americans of carrying disease into the U.S., which made it seem natural for people to avoid Asian American-owned businesses. President Donald Trump’s repeated public declarations that the “Kung Flu” virus came from China reinforced those feelings.
This race-based and erroneous assumption has resulted in Asian Americans having among the highest unemployment rates in the nation, though they had among the lowest before the pandemic.