The police say the shooter advised them that this mass killing was not racially motivated. But it is clear that the individuals he focused have been Asian ladies — he allegedly went to locations the place he knew Asian ladies would be and shot them. And Asians throughout the United States, ladies and men, are understandably terrified.
Let me share what I learn about what it means to be an Asian woman in the US, particularly in the South, a spot that, till very not too long ago, I referred to as house for almost 20 years.
To be an Asian woman in America means you possibly can’t simply be what you’re: a completely enfranchised human being. It means you’re a clean display on which others venture their tales, particularly, too usually, their sexualized fantasies — as a result of US tradition has lengthy introduced Asian ladies as sexualized objects for White male enjoyment.
To be an Asian woman in America means listening to males, particularly white males, attempt to inform you their battle tales from Korea, Vietnam and generally the Middle East. I’ve been approached quite a few instances by white male veterans in the South asking me if I used to be both Korean or Vietnamese. When I inform them I’m Chinese American, they’re disenchanted however nonetheless inform me about their Asian battle tales and the way I remind them of those Korean or Vietnamese ladies they as soon as knew. I all the time extricate myself from these conversations as quickly as attainable.
That strangers assume it’s OK to monopolize my time this fashion speaks volumes about how White males deal with Asian ladies in US society — as objects to be their sounding board as they work via battle trauma and as residing reminders of the Asian ladies they left behind, with the unstated tales of sexual exploits lingering in the air.
To be an Asian woman working in a spot like this through the pandemic means you may have critical monetary considerations — you possibly can’t work safely from house; it’s a must to earn ideas in the service trade; it’s a must to put up with abuse from clients as a result of in America the shopper is all the time proper, particularly when that buyer is a person.
Treat Asian American ladies as what they’re as a substitute of the stereotypes and racialized sexual fantasies they have been portrayed as for a lot too lengthy. We are totally enfranchised human beings — similar to you — who demand and deserve respect and dignity as we stay our lives.