Good American. Model Minority. Condescending terms meant to praise and motivate Asian Americans in the 50s and 60s to become as Americanized as possible, never complaining and never using their culture as a primary means of identifying themselves.
Sad as it is, even as a proud Filipino/Chinese American, I hadn’t heard these expressions until just recently. That’s because most of the Asian community’s oppression and monumental contributions to the development of America have been deliberately erased from history. It took my Intro to American Studies professor (an advocate who turned the class into an Asian immigrant studies course) to help me understand the undeniable role that Asian Americans played in the growth of the U.S. in addition to the horrific treatment they received: all information that’s still widely unknown today.
70 years later, we’re now seeing a return to the brutality of the past. Racism against Asians never stopped; it was just brought to light and received a huge spike ever since the onset of the coronavirus. Shootings, beatings, robberies, assaults, verbal attacks. These all point back to the mid-1900s. This time, though, Asians aren’t alone in the fight thanks to the #StopAsianHate Movement.
#StopAsianHate is a movement of rallies calling attention to the increase of racism towards Asians, and it has received participation from both within and outside of the country. Even though it took longer than it should have to make it into mainstream media, the injustices being suffered by Asians are now receiving more attention and support.
The movement has its own website, full of valuable information and resources that you can turn to in order to learn more about recent hate crimes, ways to spread awareness, places to donate and places to volunteer. It also directs readers to utilize simple methods of how to stand in solidarity with the Asian community.
I highly recommend everyone checking out the website to see the immediate ways you can be of help to the movement and continue to show support even when there’s less coverage being circulated. People have a tendency of viewing the fight for rights and freedom from living in fear as a trend. The minute people stop seeing their social media or news feeds flooded with awareness posts and educational resources, they assume the struggle is over and that the situation no longer needs to be addressed. The stories attached to names like Christian Hall, Noel Quintana and Angelo Quinto beg for the opposite.
Asian Americans already have a long history of living in the shadows and being written out of a story they continuously help to write. One of the most sustainable ways to keep the past from repeating itself is to keep in mind that there will always be a need to stand in solidarity with Asians and other minority groups and have those conversations even when it has “died down” in the public eye. Because somewhere out there, someone is still being targeted, someone is still protesting, and someone is still in need of a listening ear and active voice - regardless of whether or not it makes it onto the TV or in the paper.
The experiences of Asians, while I’m grateful they’ve finally (and rightfully) received recognition and are being addressed, are not limited to the here and now. Also, just because racism against Asians is what’s being widely talked about right now doesn’t mean they are the only ones experiencing traumatic, wrongful treatment. Someone of a different race, whether it be Black, Hispanic, Asian, etc. is experiencing it at any given moment at any given place. Each race is discriminated against in different ways from one another, but it’s oppression nonetheless.
I say this as a reminder because I know what it feels like to have my race not only be mistreated but forgotten. Even in a social work setting, I’ve had a professor proceed to list different races and how they’ve been stereotyped and discriminated against, somehow not mentioning the Asian American experience at all.
While I pinpoint the flaws in our society and the detrimental ways people engage with social issues, I completely acknowledge that I in a lot of my own ways factor into the problem and have a level of ignorance that really needs to be changed. The amazing, universal part about cultural competence and learning how to understand and be of support to different races is that it can start just by that: recognizing your own downfalls and affirming the experiences of others.