What it’s like to be Asian…

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As an Asian-American who has lived nearly her whole life in America, I never really felt the negativity of racism. I was fortunate to grow up with a family who were very open about my being adopted, my culture, and being open to other cultures period. It wasn’t until 2016 that I really began to experience a lot of hostile racism. By this time I was 30 years old and knew some about history and what America was built on and it struck me as even more hurtful. America, the melting pot that used to call itself “The Land of Opportunity,” a country that people from varying other countries still look to as an opportunity for a better life. 

At the beginning of this year, Covid–19 really began to come to our public eye for its growing cases in China. It’s extreme contractability and death rate creating fear. By mid March, cases of the virus were confirmed in America, as well as many other countries. America went into full Pandemic mode, citizens were panic shopping, and many states issued a stay-at-home order. 

The virus was senselessly called the “Chinese Virus,” and the level of racism and anger against anyone who even looks Chinese grew exponentially. To the simple point of walking the other way when they might pass someone of Asian decent, to the extreme level of chasing and beating up someone of Asian decent. Regardless of their actual race, ethnicity, heritage.

As a Korean born American, I never thought I’d be so scared of being Asian as after Trump was elected president. Today, during this national pandemic, I am even more fearful to be Asian. 

Here is an article written in USA Today on the growing racial problem during this pandemic. What It’s Like to be Asian During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

The most heart breaking thing I had ever heard was from an Black French woman, Surya Bonaly. An Olympic level figure skater who could never seem to get first place, no matter how much training and finessing she did. In an interview she was asked if she thought that in any way it was because she is black. She said no, it was just that, “when you’re black, you know. Everybody knows that you have to do better than anybody else who’s white.”

There have been times in my life lately when I have felt the same sentiment. In my work place, 1 of 3 non-white employees on my shift. I have felt like I have had to face a lot more negative criticism than my peers, that I have had to work twice as hard. 

And even though most of the time, I don’t even think most people even consciously think about it. That a negative view of Asian-Americans is so deeply ingrained. People still blame MSG in Chinese food for feelings of dizziness and headaches. An idea brought about in 1969, despite no scientific proof of the correlation between MSG and the symptoms of “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.”

Here is an article written earlier this year about “Chinese Restaurant Syndrome.” MSG in Chinese Restaurants isn’t Unhealthy…

Racism has always been a part of Asian-American history. But American’s forget that it was Asian immigrants who helped build the Transcontinental Railroad, which physically brought the country together. American’s forget that it is through Asian companies that we do our everyday communication with others, everyday internet work, stream televison programs… Sony, LG, Samsung, HTC… All companies from Asia. 

As an Asian-American who has lived nearly my whole life proud of my Asian heritage, I have never felt more fear and shame of this country I call home.

Vacation Pandemic – Day 1

I remember a time, not long ago, I woke up thinking I was in a dream. Surely any moment I would wake up and it would all be over, surely we didn’t elected Trump as our nation’s president…

I woke up this morning after being awake for nearly 20 hours, after 8 hours of work, then driving 277 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes. I woke up thinking I was in a dream, and that any moment I would wake up.

But time keeps ticking, and I slowly realize that my eyes are really open. There is no waking from this. No number of dystopian novels, or zombie movies can really prepare you for this. This thing that happens on your TV screen, not outside your door. But the truth is, we are in a pandemic. And I watch as it spills outwards, ripples off of a dropped stone into a pond. I watch as it oozes closer, erupted lava, and we are running out of pillows to jump on. There is no where to run.

I still find myself laughing a little on the inside, who says things like that and really means it? But I close my eyes and all I see is Jason Voorhees coming towards me at his slow, but inevitable pace, machete full of virus…

But what really scares me, is the madness, the hysteria around me. The store shelves stripped empty by fear. Thoughtless fear. People buying the bandaids, but not the Neosporin. People shunning Asians as if each one of them carries the leper virus. Avoiding their shops and restaurants and forgetting that Asians once put their blood, sweat, and tears into helping build this country.

I find myself shaking, twitching, just trying to flick the remnants of this bad dream off and try to get back to my life. But the world is shutting down around me. Schools closing for the safety of our youth. Businesses trying to stay strong, to be a source of comfort and normalcy for people, slowly dropping like flies. Highway traffic tapering off to trickles. The world is shutting down around me. Like in Hollywood videos, when the power to a large city gets shut off. You watch the town from some high vantage point, maybe a birds eye view, as sections go dark, one. by. one. Until all there is is darkness. And silence.

Four years ago I woke up to a newly divided nation. Angry. So much anger and hatred bubbled to the surface. And there was fear. Fear of our own safety, fear of our neighbor, fear of our own president. And I didn’t believe that things could get worse.

Today I woke up to a shattered nation. Fear. We are afraid of our very selves. And to some extent, I think, afraid of what could come next.

I drove up to my parent’s place to spend my days off. Sometime during the drive it seemed, this town shut down as well. It, at first, felt almost pointless to be up here. But the truth is, the situation is no better at home. And at times like this, I would rather spend it with loved ones, than by myself, in true isolation.