A note from Dom and Courtney:
As business owners, we have a slightly larger platform than the average individual. We believe that we should use it to help spur change to better our community and protect all the people that live within it. So when our copywriter, Yaya Wong asked if they could write about their experiences as an Asian American, we did not hesitate to give them our support. This isn't a blog post about our business, it's about the community that our business is a part of. Please take the time to read it, and reflect on what you can do to help and empower marginalized groups in your community.
In the process of writing this article about the Atlanta mass shootings, another violent hate crime directed at Asian Americans occured in Colorado. That’s 18 people in the span of a week. To deny the violence my people face would be willfully, ignorant privilege. While my community is mourning, this could be an opportunity to educate others on the oppression of Asian Americans and what you could do to help. The onus of liberation should never be solely the responsibility of the victims.
Many Americans don’t believe Asian Americans experience racial oppression because of the model minority myth. This is the false idea that Asian Americans are the ideal reference for outgroups like other communities of color due to their perceived higher achievement of socioeconomic success, which is perpetuated by white supremacists in a degrading, privilege-adjacent facade. White supremacists often idolize imperial Japan for its xenophobic history, making it a successful ethnostate--the standard white supremacists aim for in America. By making Asian groups the “model” it separates us from the idea that we experience racism, which makes it easier to normalize racial violence and oppression because we aren’t considered “oppressed”.While racial violence is nothing new to my community, it has slowly gained news recognition over quarantine. Before coronavirus had spread to the United States, it was common knowledge that the first cases were in Wuhan, China. There is a pervasive racist narrative that Chinese people are “dirty” because they eat foods that are considered untouchable by Western standards (think insects, chicken feet, duck blood, shark fin and yes--dog, a common criticism that seems hypocritical from a country that leads in animal consumption). My people were blamed for the spread of COVID-19 and all at once everyone of Chinese descent became perpetrators of the virus. At our own University of Arkansas, my peers began to treat me differently. Students and strangers alike started to stand a little further away, stare at me with wary fascination and even cover their faces with their hands when I got too close. At first I was hurt. In the past, when I faced racial discrimination it seemed to only be the one or two people hurting me but as I quickly realized that everyone around me started to treat me differently I grew bitter and angry. I wasn’t dirty, I wasn’t contagious by virtue of my heritage and even now I have never contracted the virus like so many of my non-Asian peers.
Coronavirus has incentivized and motivated violence against my people. What happened in Atlanta is not unusual, America’s racist structures have just convinced you that violence against Asian Americans isn’t really violence. The Atlanta shooter, who I have refused to immortalize by naming, was not having “a bad day” when he killed eight of my brothers and sisters; he was a COVID-denier and held such an “extreme fetish” for Asian women that he murdered them, seeing them as objects and aiming to free himself of his disgusting fetish. People like him do not see us as actualized human beings, existing either as sexual objects or dirty outsiders. As a non-Asian ally, you can help bring awareness to our oppression by supporting and donating to AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) non-profit organizations and businesses. Over the course of the pandemic, AAPI business owners have been negatively impacted in staggering amounts due to financial burdens and racist avoidance of our culture/food/businesses. Hate is a Virus is a non-profit organization created by Tammy Cho and Michelle Hanabusa that fights to amplify AAPI voices and stands for the justice and equality of AAPIs in solidarity with other communities of color.
Make a point to educate yourself on these violent crimes, understand and empathize with AAPI communities by supporting them with your voice, your signature, and your money.
In memory of
Delaina Ashley Yaun
Paul Andre Michels
Park Hyeon Jeong