The month of May is known in the U.S. as Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Month and in Canada as Asian Heritage Month to recognize the achievements and contributions of citizens of Asian descent to the past, present and future success of both countries. It’s also a time to reflect on and call out the incidences of hate against Asians in both countries and around the world.
This pandemic has shown us the good, the bad and the downright ugly of humanity. Unspeakable tragedies brought on by racial violence towards the Asian American and Pacific Islander community have left us emotionally and mentally drained.
Ignorant buzzwords such as “Kung Flu” and downright insidious labeling of COVID-19 as the “China Virus” worked their way to fan the flames of hatred towards a population that is often unseen and unheard.
Well, that time is over. No longer are we going to be the “model minority.” Social media has been a powerful and useful tool in propagating our plight—we are suffering, and while many of us are still suffering in silence, there is a large vocal group that is finally becoming outspoken about the violence we have been facing since the start of the pandemic.
Growing up, I was often told not to make a fuss or draw attention to myself. Unfortunately for my parents, I am the type with a big mouth and I don’t mind a little confrontation. I stood up for myself when I was five years old, and I don’t plan on stopping any time soon. When you’ve been dealing with racial microaggressions your whole life, it’s hard to let your guard down. This fight for justice and equality never really goes away. It would be ideal if people like me didn’t have to stand up for what is right and live a peaceful life, but we live in a world where our mere existence is like having a target painted on our backs. We can’t just go through life without thinking to ourselves, “Will I be OK? Is this a safe environment for me?”
Going through social media has been quite brutal for many of us, with the news an endless stream of violence against the AAPI community. The victims of these hate crimes are real people who are loved, who have family and friends. I think of my mother when I read stories of 60-year-old Filipina women getting attacked for no reason other than being Asian. It pains my heart to read these stories, but it’s also important for the world to know that we are suffering, and there is plenty they can do to put an end to it.
You can start small by simply educating yourself. The internet is an endless source of information, so use it. Watch documentaries and YouTube videos, read articles, whatever works for you.
I know donating is a huge part of helping out, and it’s definitely something you should look into doing. Maybe even offer up your time to help these organizations by volunteering. This article from Seventeen Magazine has a list of organizations you can donate to.
If you have any friends who are part of the AAPI community, then reach out to them. Ask how they are doing, if their family is OK. A friendly conversation doesn’t hurt anybody.
It’s difficult to talk about race and politics since both can be heated topics for many, but do keep in mind that real change comes when the law is used to protect its citizens, rather than punish them. Voting for politicians who actually care about protecting your civil rights and freedoms is the first step to putting an end to these hate crimes.
Speak out against any racial microaggressions, and never hesitate to report any hate crimes. Yes, it can be daunting to go through a confrontational process, but the more you do it, the better this world becomes. No one ever said the fight for equality was going to be easy.
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