Making sense of Atlanta and this Asian American moment
Mr Lee thank you. As a black woman living in the Bay Area I am still amazed at how white supremacy and colonialism has warped and twisted every group's self identiy and how it shows up for them. We all have that in common.
As an Asian American teenage girl, thank you. Thank you for putting words to exactly the sentiments I think many of us are feeling. I'm worried too that this will all soon be last week's news (if it isn't already).
As a progressive Jewish American wanting to learn more, I appreciate your ability to articulate this complicated (...more elusive to the non-Asian-American community...) type of racism. It is clearly very real and very maddening. I am so sorry for what the Asian American community has been through. Know that many of us are with you, as well as other BIPOC.
Beautifully written piece (the “truncated for space” edit in the NYT newsletter doesn’t do it justice). I don’t know if it’s necessary (or possible) for Asian Americans to find a collective identity beyond being Americans. It may be more important to recognize the root of our collective problem: white supremacy. As you wrote, that’s happening among younger Asian Americans (and some of us older farts too). White supremacy is the persistent commonality in the seemingly individual pan-Asian, Black, Hispanic and Indigenous struggles. It’s the forest beyond the individual trees. It is the problem.
Anyways, thanks for coming to my Ted talk.
Mr. Lee this piece spoke to me in a way that a piece from James Baldwin speaks to me. My emotions were all over the place and I wanted to keep reading.
The hatred and violence are parallel to the Black American experience. Unfortunately, we have never been the "model minority" and that had resulted in generational abuse.
I don't know what else we can do. For me, anger sets in because of all the murders, police brutality, educational and job inequities; then I think we fight back with the same guns and hatred. I KNOW THIS ISN'T THE ANSWER. Therefore, we keep protesting, praying, writing, and connecting/protecting each other.
That story about your Dad...wrenching. I too remember my Dad having to face something similar and I remember his humiliation, his fear and his shame. Thank you for writing this. And your daughter sounds like a bad-ass!
Deftly and evocatively written, I found myself nodding in agreement as I read. I too had a similar experience during a family outing as a pre-teen. My father became incandescent with rage when we were rudely ignored. I was filled with embarrassment and doubt, unsure my dad was right that we were being mistreated.The difference is we are a Black family and we were at a Korean restaurant. This was not the last time I experienced racism from an Asian-American. I have also heard some Blacks say some pretty racist anti-Asian things. It has long distressed me that our communities do not have better relations and see each other as the natural allies that we are. Kudos to your daughter.
I hope to have many, many more of our AAPI sisters and brothers join in our struggle.
Very poignant, thoughtful and insightful article. Growing up in a lily-white suburb of Detroit, I also noticed this confrontation aversion among Asian-American friends in college, as well as the micro and macro aggression from whites. I find bullying behavior disgusting and worth confronting at any time. Thank you for sharing your experiences and feelings on this issue; your courage and strength in doing so are very much appreciated, and I am so supportive of your efforts. Also sharing with family and friends on FB.
I loved this. You put into words feelings that seem too complex. Sharing this with friends.
Thank you for sharing and for your inner strength. Together we can all make this a better world.
Your essay was forwarded to me by a friend and I'm so glad she did. I was born in NY, but my parents were recent immigrants from South America and as we traveled the US had more than a few occasions when random people who yell at us to go back to where we came from. They were such infuriating and depressive experiences to get that from total strangers when all we were doing is existing in their space (filling our gas tank, stopping at rest stops, buying items in some random store). So sad to see that in many ways - not much has changed. And perhaps sadder is that although I was born here - I still feel like I don't truly belong. Like I'm stuck between my parent's homeland and this one. On top of that I married a 1st generation immigrant from my parent's home country and had to re-live the hardship of his "assimilation" into this country as well. We have now divorced and my second husband is also 1st generation from the Phillipines. I guess more than a sense of "American" identity, the immigrant experience resonates more closely for me than any other (although I was born here). Thank you for writing your deeply personal essay and sharing it with us.
Thank you, Mr. Lee. Your essay has me in tears. If possible, I would appreciate your forwarding my gratitude to your father. His rage reminds me of my own father, who escaped from Hitler's Europe in the early 1940's. What is stunning to me is that I began studying Zen Buddhism in 1975, with a Korean teacher, Dae Soen Sa Nim Seung Sahn... an amazing human being. In the years I spent living at The Providence Zen Center, and many more years being a student often in the midst of Korean pracitioners, I never once heard any mention of racism. And even though I was brought up in a home where the teaching of the evils of racism were ever-present, I never seriously considered racism against Asian Americans. What little I knew was mind-awareness; it had not seeped into my bones, or broken my heart. Your powerful, beautifully expressed piece of writing, is important. I will be forwarding it to my friends.
Thank you for this piece. I have to ask: Who is Asian? As a child of a South Asian man and Black woman, I have not experienced a recognition by persons of East Asian or South Asian descent that I too am Asian. There are complexities of skin color prejudice and classism among Asians which limit opportunities for coalition building. The “silence” is not just about the personal experience, but also about not speaking up when other BIPOC are actively discriminated against, even by Asians. Inasmuch as we are looking outward for recognition of the injustice against Asians, we should not miss the opportunity to introspect about how we Asians view others (e.g., children of mixed race, Muslims) and why we don’t have stronger relationships between the many people who are classified as Asian in America.
Great piece. I still struggle with passivity myself. I'm not optimistic that this moment will be a turning point because the hostility directed towards isn't isolated but a part of the disintegration of American society as a whole. I just subscribed and am looking forward to seeing your take on other aspects of being an Asian American.
Your dad is a badass too. My mom is a third-generation Japanese American and my late dear dad was a Chinese immigrant born in Mexico who arrived in the US in the 1950s. My parents are cut from the same cloth as your father and the Popo with the board.
Thank you for this piece. It helped me to understand my feelings; why my reaction to these recent acts of violence differ from some of my Asian American friends, particularly those who are deeply disappointed by the response/non response of white people.