By now it seems people have finally caught on to the anti-Asian racism the Asian American community has experienced the entire pandemic, with the recent increase in vicious attacks, especially against our elderly and women. Anti-Asian sentiment and racism isn't new. It has existed for as long as Asians have been here, as long as the first Filipinos were brought as slaves during the colonial period. While many of our parents and grandparents have always brushed off racist attacks, we're tired of having our voices silenced or ignored. If you're wondering how you can support the Asian American community right now, here are a few ways:
Last year, I had several conversations with several different people explaining why using the term "China [or Chinese] virus" was racist or at least incited racism. People of course would always reference the Spanish flu, and to that I say read this article which explains why that was racist, too. A point I have oft made is that, had the virus first been found in the UK, I highly doubt that we'd suddenly see a rise in hate and attacks against British people. Funny enough, there now is a "British mutation" of COVID-19, or at least a mutation that was first found in the UK. Isn't it ironic, that people are careful to point out that this mutation was first found in the UK and not that the mutation itself is British and that British people are to blame for this? Now there's also a South African strain and I've wondered if we might see racist remarks about Africa in general, the same way that the "China virus" affects and affected all Asian Americans and other Asians who are minorities in their countries, such as the UK and France. I would think (or at least hope) not, since at this point it seems the virus itself is mutating faster than we are all able to get vaccinated and it's clear that that cannot be blamed on any one ethnicity or race.
With all this said, I was very happy to see that President Joe Biden released a Memorandum Condemning and Combating Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States. I feel seen. I'm not sure we've seen something like this before, because often times Asian Americans are overlooked in race talks. So, thank you Mr. President for seeing us.
In December, as part of 16 Days of Activism, a global movement to end gender-based violence that starts every year on November 25th, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on December 10th, Human Rights Day, I moderated a panel on behalf of Amnesty International's Los Angeles Chapter, to discuss the COVID-19's impact on gender-based violence. The pandemic has had a major effect on everyone, in multiple ways, and it has brought out of the shadows the widespread and and large scale of issues that often gets tucked away in the shadow of society.
A recording of the panel is now available on YouTube for you to watch. We had a stellar panel including Tani Ikeda, and representatives from Break the Cycle, SafeBAE, and AmnestyUSA.
There's a scene in Bridgerton, after Daphne finally learns how babies are made and is upset to realize that her husband has misled her into thinking he can't have children, when it is that he won't have children. In their next bedtime encounter, before he is able to finish, she forces herself on top of him until he finishes inside her, instead of outside of her as he usually did. This is a consent issue and equates to a sexual assault. Yes, a woman can sexually assault a man. Yes, a wife can sexually assault her husband (and vice versa). And yes, you can be in the throws of sexual intimacy when consent is violated and assault is committed. It's important to recognize this, because I think many of us may have overlooked this. If the roles were reversed, it would have been very obvious and we would have said that Simon raped Daphne. The series highlights the lack of sex education women had back then, and how important sex education is. More importantly, sex education must include education on consent.
I was gutted to hear that Daisy Coleman took her life yesterday. I was shocked. I had to read the words at least three times before I fully comprehended what was happening. I didn't know her well, but I met her and the SafeBAE (Safe Before Anyone Else) team she co-founded a couple of years ago when I had the privilege of speaking on a panel at the end of a screening for their short GAME ON! The short was an educational piece to show teens how to look out for each other and prevent sexual assault by being an active bystander.
They, like myself, have a mission in life to help our younger and future generations change our culture for the better. After watching her story in the Netflix documentary, "Audrie and Daisy," I felt a sisterly connection with her, the way I do with all survivors. Daisy didn't deserve what happened to her. No woman or child does. She was just 14 when she was raped and left out in the freezing Missouri cold. But instead of her town and school supporting her and helping her heal, they turned on her. They bullied her at school and online.
Healing is not a straight and narrow path, but one full of ups and downs, U-turns, and off-roading. I, myself, know this well. Daisy did a lot of work on her healing, including EMDR, and was in the process of making a documentary showing her journeh. Daisy gave the world a gift when she became an activist. She turned her nightmare into a million dreams. And I, like so many others, was inspired by her. She was also an artist, and became known for tatooing other survivors. She took what happened to her and lit the way to help other young survivors.
We must continue that work. We can't let children continue to have their innocence robbed from them and then slaughtered in front of their faces. We can't let a culture of sexual assault to continue. This means educating young people on how to protect themselves and each other. This means not letting offenders get away with a mere slap of the wrist like so many young white male rapists have gotten away with. You can help continue Daisy’s and SafeBAE's work by donating to their organization. For the rest of the year, I will also donate a portion of any profit I make on Pocket Full of Dreams to SafeBAE. Please also consider purchasing the book for any young person you may know, or a school--middle school, high school, or university age. We must end this culture of abuse together.
If you recall the pilot episode of Fresh Off The Boat, it opens with “Ain’t No Future In Yo’ Frontin’” by M.C. Breed & DFC playing over a sequence of eleven-year-old Eddie Huang putting on an Orlando Magic baseball hat and starter jacket with gold chains around his neck. This here, was a perfect depiction of Black culture’s influence on my and particularly my other Asian friends’ lives growing up in Torrance, California, in the 90’s. We were influenced by Black music, Black television, Black fashion, basketball, and for an Asian girl with curves, there were two people who helped me learn to love myself through puberty—J.Lo, and Queen Bey.
This year, I became actively involved with Amnesty International, an organization I have known of since I was in high school, but only just learned of its origins. Amnesty started with the simple act of one of my favorite past times (still a current happening for me), and that is letter writing. In general a nice, simple, and thoughtful letter in the mail from someone you love always warms the heart and brightens your day. But did you know letter writing can also save lives?
One of the reasons I always tell people not to be sorry, when they find out I have been in an abusive relationship, is because in the end, I am grateful for everything that has come of it. I believe God guided me through this nightmare so that I could serve a purpose in life, and that purpose is to help be a guiding for others in this situation. As a result of sharing my own experiences, it has led others to reach out and seek advice and guidance--sometimes for themselves, and sometimes to figure out how to be a supportive friend or family member. In fact, I get a number of folks reaching out to seek out resources and advice on how to help a friend or family member in an abusive relationship. So, I thought I would share some helpful tips and advice in case you're feeling overwhelmed, helpless, and/or frustrated.
We've all heard of the bystander effect. It is what happens when the presence of others discourages an individual from intervening in an emergency situation. More than just expecting someone else to intervene, when it comes to witnessing sexual assault or intimate partner violence, sometimes we just don't know how to intervene. However, there are many ways you can be an effective bystander, instead of a product of the bystander effect.
I gave a talk at Cal State Northridge today, and one student asked me what to do if someone keeps contacting you through social media, creating new accounts every time you block that person, or trying to reach you through contacting your friends. This is called cyberstalking. I told her I didn't think there was a perfect answer, based on my own experience, but in the least after you've asked the person to stop and done all you can to stop the person from contacting you, there are reports you can file with the police, so I wanted to share that info here (especially because I forgot the name of one of the reports!)