As a non-Asian POC, I know I can do better

Rally against anti-Asian hate crimes held by the Asian American Pacific Islanders Organizing Coalition Against Hate and Bias, in Newcastle, Washington, on March 17, 2021. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

Once again, I feel exhausted.

My exhaustion shows up in many ways: panic, anxiety, dread, anger, and ultimately sorrow. After the events of Atlanta this past week, I am once again reminded that to be a non-white person in America is to be in a constant state of exhaustion.

I can only imagine how my AAPI family might be feeling at this moment: a visceral, searing reminder that no matter how hard you try, you are always and forever not white. Folks like Shanon Maglente have written about the “helpless panic” they feel every time another hate crime occurs. Worse yet is the deafening silence that follows each attack. Sure, there are influencers and activists yelling from the rooftops, but for the most part, these attacks remain underreported.

After so many of us showed up in force for Black Lives last summer, why have we remained eerily silent until this week?

The fact is undeniable: the Black experience is singular. The discrimination Black folks continue to experience is this country’s greatest moral failure. I and all non-Black people of color owe a huge debt to the Black community. We owe Black women, who have shown up consistently election after election. We owe Black Trans women for their efforts in essentially kicking off the modern Queer Rights movement. As a Latino immigrant and Queer man, I owe the few rights I do have to the efforts of Black folks.

And yet, I can go harder for AAPI lives.

I can be both pro-Black and also hold space for the unique traumas of my AAPI family. And in fact dismantling white toxicity requires us to hold space for the ways white terrorism has traumatized, oppressed, and exhausted all of us. We need to talk about the fact that for over 200 years, our Congress has passed vicious, explicitly anti-Asian laws. And we need to talk about how for most of that time, our Courts have upheld those racist laws.

As a child of immigrants, my impulse is to make myself small. To put my head down and move on. But this is a myth. I don’t move on. I simply internalize the trauma. And that’s precisely what white toxicity needs to stay alive. It needs us to stay silent.

My hope is that by holding space for all of us to share our unique racial traumas, we can let go of some of that panic, dread, anger, and sorrow. My hope is that we can use this moment to collectively heal and let go of the exhaustion.

The following is Shanon Maglente’s guide to AAPI allyship, ways to help the Georgia AAPIA community, and Matthew Kincaid’s brief history of racism against the AAPI community.

Shanon Maglente’s Guide to Allyship

  • Check on your Asian friends, colleagues, and neighbors. It’s a sensitive topic, so it might be difficult to find the right words. A simple, “Hey, I heard about the recent hate crimes. I just want to let you know I’m here for you,” is better than nothing at all.
  • Start the conversation with your non-Asian friends and family. Awareness is key. Ask your parents if they’ve heard about the most recent wave of anti-Asian hate crimes, or bring it up in conversation with friends.
  • Speak up when you hear microaggressions. Some examples include asking an Asian person where they’re from or complimenting them on their “perfect English accent.” This insinuates that they don’t belong. Using words like “oriental” or “exotic” to describe someone or something Asian is outdated, inappropriate, and downright offensive. And as for saying that all Asians look alike, I don’t think I need to explain this one! If you ever witness these or related incidents in public or at the workplace, speak up for that person. Strength comes in numbers.

Support Georgia’s Asian American communities.

  1. Sign on to our collective community statement to stand in solidarity with us as we develop our community-centered response and denounce the misogyny, white supremacy, and systemic racism that motivate violence against Asian American communities and other communities of color. A link to the full statement and individual and organizational sign-ons are here: http://bit.ly/GeorgiaAAPICommunityStatement
  2. Donate to the victims of the violent acts and their families: https://bit.ly/DonateToGeorgiaAAPICommunity All donations will go directly to support the victims and their families.
  3. Share the resources you can offer to the victims and their families, other impacted community members, and community organizations involved in crisis response: https://bit.ly/georgiaAAPIcommunitycare

Anti Asian Racism History via Matthew Kincaid

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Soft Boy ☁️ Content creator, event producer, and social impact branding, informed by the lived experiences of first generation, BIPOC, and Queer folks

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Carlos Aguilar

Carlos Aguilar

Soft Boy ☁️ Content creator, event producer, and social impact branding, informed by the lived experiences of first generation, BIPOC, and Queer folks

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