Few days ago, the Asian community in Atlanta, Georgia has been attacked in what the police forces are still reluctantly calling, Hate Crime. As an Asian-Immigrant, I was furious and disheartened that such carnage happened. What adds fuel into the fire is the mainstream media calling the 23-year old murderer "kid", adding insult to the crime - a pill that is hard to swallow for Asian minorities.
During the height of the pandemic, the Black community has been attacked in such magnitude that the campaign, Black Lives Matter resonated across the globe. There was civil unrest having people marched on the streets to protest systemic racism, amidst the rising number of Sars-Cov-2 positive cases and the height of political campaign in the most powerful nation in the world, the United States of America. The voice that these protests created was heard in all quadrants of the Earth, where black, caucasian, asian, hispanic and native-Americans from all walks of life took a knee to support the African-American fight against systemic racism, fascism and violence against black people.
When the COVID-19 pandemic happened, a one-term First World leader called it the "China Virus" as it originated from Wuhan, China. This sent a strong but wrongful signal against Asian communities. Harvey Dong, a lecturer in Asian American and Asian diaspora studies with the University of California at Berkeley told The Post in his interview that the term is racist and it creates xenophobia. The events that followed have become a fearful affair against Asian communities from white supremacists. Tiktok alone has documented hundreds of videos of Asians being harassed, berrated and physically attacked. Some have their homes vandalized and their lives and livelihood threatened. These videos are heart-wrenching evidence that despite our present efforts to navigate away from the terrible parts of history, we are still living in the shadows of the past where equal rights seem to be inappropriate to be accorded to minorities.
Protests have been made in small scales by asian communities after the tragic event in Georgia, but they have not driven support from outside communities other than themselves. Unlike the BLM movement where politicians capitalized on making a good case for the next ballot, asian communities have been left out fighting all by themselves. It is perplexing to see the whole world fights for one group and leaves the other for dead. I could personally go on a rant and encourage my fellow asians and asian-Immigrants to fight eye for an eye, but what good do I get? I know that we can do better than just sob in one corner while the rest of the world go on with their own fights.
After the Atlanta shooting, it has been hard for me to fathom why the world is full of so much hate - why people cannot just live harmoniously and co-exist for common good. There were days I find myself sitting in my kitchen trying to enjoy a cup of tea, recalling memories of my early days in Canada. I too, was a victim of racism, several times - a lot of times. I was once called Kung Pao Chicken by a roommate from Quebec. In 2014, when the Canadian Government decided to cut Temporary Foreign Workers stay to four years, I was asked by a white woman, "So, who is going to brew our coffee when all of you Filipinos got sent back home?", and on several occassion, I got asked by employers where to find the rest of the Filipino Immigrant Workers because they want to hire cheaper labor and they don't complain. People also have laughed at and made fun of my distinct Filipino accent, among other things. Looking back at how I particularly reacted on each situation, I am glad to have treated each with such a degree of tactfulness. I have chosen to quietly protest by choosing diplomacy and kindness, not because I did not have any fight in me but because I have so much charity and understanding.
While writing this post, I looked back again and tried to ask myself what if I reacted otherwise during those times when I and my compatriots got looked down on. Still, I am full of vindication. I am at peace. No, I would not have dealt it any other way. Because I embrace my skin color. Because I know myself better than anybody else. Because I see everyone as inherently good. Because I was raised well by my folks. Because I choose to celebrate my heritage, my lineage. I have chosen to take pride of my asian culture over obliviousness. I choose to see the brighter side of the room.
At present, I am in a position where I have a voice and available platforms to initiate reforms and, to advocate awareneness on asian culture, and not just my Filipino pride. I have chosen my weapon to fight - I have wisely picked knowledge over ignorance. I may not be clenching my fist while marching on the streets, nor screaming for justice while kneeling in protest, but I will speak eloquently on what peace and prosperity look like when people opt to celebrate and salute achievement after achievement of every asian community. As Ronald Reagan once enthused, "Evil is powerless if the good are unafraid!". And for me to be able to realize this famous passage, I choose the power of the pen over the sharp blades of the sword.
Now, choose your weapon!