In mid-October of 2016, I was asked to participate in this NYTimes video. I felt privileged to be part of a conversation that had never before taken place on such a national scale. Asian Americans were responding together, sharing stories of brushes with racism. My non-Asian friends responded to the video with dismay and were stunned to know that so many of us experience treatment as outsiders, as foreigners, as 'them'. And when the video was released, it seemed we had hit a turning point. We were talking about the racism, the bullying, the hate that had overshadowed our childhoods, that had rotted inside us, that stumbled after us with calls to "Go back to your fucking country."
And then the election happened.
The hate crimes escalated. The fear mounted. Articles came out highlighting the hate crimes focused on groups denounced by Trump's toxic rhetoric and targeted by White Supremacists. Asian Americans and Asian immigrants were on the receiving end of many of these hateful acts, but had once again fallen into invisibility. As the media, understandably, concentrated largely on Latinos, Muslims, African Americans and Jewish communities, we were once again, if at all, mixed, indistinguishably, into the title of 'People of Color'.
Only two short months ago Asian Americans had been on the brink of progress, of being noticed and heard, of being acknowledged far beyond the stereotypes, and I am afraid of losing our voice once again.
Here is a reminder of what was stirred up within us when one unidentified woman was called out nationally for her ignorance and bigotry. And now we face staggering pockets of Americans who feel their hate has been validated and made acceptable by this looming administration, who feel that the unidentified woman had been a cheerleader for them when they had to hide in the shadows. It's time for Asian Americans to break from our silence and try, yet again, to make ourselves heard. #thisis2016 #thisis2017