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Why My Heart Is Heavy for My Asian American Community

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Berkeley chapter.

My heart is heavy for my Asian American community because of the recent influx of violent attacks against Asian American elders in the San Francisco Bay Area — but these are not isolated incidents. 

Perpetuated by xenophobic political rhetoric that has fueled the fire of hatred toward many communities of color, the pandemic has spurred lethal ambushes of blame against Asian Americans for spreading the “China Virus” and “Kung Flu.”

To convert this into numbers, there have been 2,808 reported incidents of racially motivated hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States between March and December 2020, as reported by the Stop AAPI Hate coalition. The NYPD reported that these hate crimes against Asian Americans have skyrocketed by a devastating 1,900 percent.

Lately, when I open my social media apps to de-stress from Zoom fatigue, it pains me to see graphic videos of Asian American elders being brutally and violently attacked simply for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. 

As I write this letter, I think of my Korean American grandpa. Despite being a chronic smoker, he has a sharp mind and a body made of steel attributed to his carpentry expertise and hard-working, resilient approach to life. Yet, even though he’s able bodied enough to keep honing his craft at 76, he still would be too vulnerable to withstand one of these racially charged attacks.

person comforting old man
Matthias Zomer

Asian Americans are grouped under the umbrella term, “model minority,” and it’s a backhanded compliment. The myth invalidates all the hard work we have undergone to achieve success in America by perpetuating stereotypes like “All Asians are good at math.” It also subjects us to the role of subordinate pawns, pitting us against other races to fight for a seat at a pitifully small table in a systemically racist world.

I am proud that my culture is celebrated through the food non-Asians consume religiously, like boba or dumplings, and by the entertainment they love and worship, like K-pop and anime. However, it makes me wonder why that love cannot translate into empathy, not just for the people responsible for these beloved Asian creations, but for all Asians and Asian Americans collectively.

We are taught that we should handle our own problems in non-confrontational ways, speak when spoken to, and avoid seeking out help because it is a sign of weakness, but this is an outdated mentality. Our cultural difference from non-Asian communities causes others to misconstrue us as submissive, reserved, and quiet. In reality, we are trying to be self-sufficient and polite to others. These harmful assumptions are why it is imperative that our voices be heard.

The world is filled with injustices, and I know it can be emotionally draining to keep up with all of them. However, it’s also overwhelming to have to constantly shout into the void because no one believes that your struggles are valid enough. We must understand that anti-racist activism is intersectional, and change won’t come if we don’t speak up and take action.

Via Pixabay

Actions to Take

– Spread awareness via social media and word of mouth.

– Contact your representatives: 1-800-USA-0234 and your zip code or text RESIST to 504-09.

– Donate: stopaapihate.org

Rebekah Sim

UC Berkeley '23

Rebekah Sim is a fourth-year at UC Berkeley pursuing a major in English and a minor in Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies. The Angeleno likes to spend her time hiking and traveling.
Samhita Sen

UC Berkeley '21

Samhita (she/her pronouns) graduated in December 2021 from UC Berkeley with a double major in Communication/Media Studies and Sociology. At any given moment, she may be frantically writing an essay, carelessly procrastinating by watching Claire Saffitz on YouTube or spending time with people she loves.