Dear Spokesman, Stop Asian Hate


Image courtesy of Pixabay

Eleanor Ding, Print Editor-in-Chief

Dear Spokesman,

If anyone still believes in the model minority myth after the shooting in Atlanta, I don’t know what to say.

The East Asian diaspora in America would not be the same without undocumented immigrants who often provide essential services. It would not be the same without our elders who cannot drive or speak English and do not hold college degrees. It would not be the same without the salons and hairdressers run by hard-working women, often women who moved to America to support their families. It would not be the same without the Asian grocers and restaurant owners.

I have gotten my hair cut in Asian-American salons. I have known many lovely immigrant women who cannot drive or speak English yet nevertheless provide essential services — one of whom was my nanny for many years. That my parents hold college degrees and speak fluent English does not make them the singular Asian American experience. I am so, so grateful for the working-class Asians, often parents and grandparents, who have my experience made growing up in America what it is.

I have experienced sinophobia both online and at school. As early as preschool, I have had people make fun of my last name. I have heard the term “China virus” used in a classroom setting here in PDS. My teacher did not call it out. At the time, I was afraid to make a big deal of it. “It’s just a passing comment,” I thought. “I’m probably taking it too seriously.” Well, I regret not making a big deal of it now. It’s these kinds of microaggressions that we’ve been facing for years that have led to this horrific rise in violence.

I’m so angry that I live in a country that excuses rampant sinophobia, that sees Chinese people and Asians mistaken for Chinese as an ‘other’ to be fought against, that prefers to stoke anti-Asian attitudes during a pandemic rather than addressing its problems, while also propagating a myth that the Asian-Americans who have infinitely contributed to its culture and its very history are nothing but submissive straight-A students. 

The pandemic led to a rise in anti-Asian hate, but anti-Asian hate did not begin with the pandemic. The Atlanta shooting happened at the crossroads of anti-Asian, anti-immigrant, anti-sex work, and misogynistic hate. It was a hate crime. Call it as such. Listen to Asian-Americans when we tell you to cut the microaggressions and when we tell you to stop stereotyping us as perfect students, and educate yourselves on the history of anti-Asian hate and the best ways to support the Asian community.

The model minority myth erases the experiences of queer Asians, elderly Asians, working-class Asians, undocumented Asians, Southeast Asians, and so much more. It presents the Asian experience as a monolith when it is anything but. I’m tired of the narrative America has forced upon us, and I’m so proud of my fellow Asians who are protesting, who are standing up to the objectification, who are challenging the narrative. Thank you for being the community that I am proud to have grown up in, and that I am still proud to belong to today.