“The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.”
It’s been a fkn month. Hell, it’s been a year.
This post started out as a “how-to” on handling your emotional triggers, but it absolutely refused. No matter how long I sat here, the screen remained blank. This post needed and wanted to go a different way.
If my photo hasn’t already tipped you off, I am Asian. Filipino to be exact. Born and raised in America to two Filipino parents who are American citizens and speak English fluently. My father is bilingual, my mother speaks three languages. My grandfather worked his ass off to petition my grandmother and our whole family to get here. We belong here.
The rise in Asian-American hate crimes have crippled any security I have in walking around alone. The news is so bad, the only thing I can bear to read are the headlines. I avoid most of it and I feel guilty about it.
But I can’t allow myself to sit with it too long. It’s too heavy. My heart aches too deep for far too long. I lose sleep. My anxiety skyrockets. I need to be present for my kids. I need to function. Doom scrolling isn’t an option.
And I know I am not alone in that.
There is an ongoing underlying current of vulnerability that is always there. Granted, it’s been there since I was twelve and started getting leered at by gross pervy men, but over the past year it’s evolved into a chronic feeling of fear every time I step out of my house.
The worst part? I look at my mixed daughters and pray they can pass. I am literally praying that I am erased from their faces in order to keep them safe. And THAT is fucked up.
Every time my parents text me from the grocery store. Every time my brother posts about an open house he’s hosting. Or my cousins, several of whom are working the COVID front lines. I am terrified.
And I feel guilty about that, but I know I shouldn’t.
This excerpt from This Is What No One Tells You About Being Asian In America In 2021 by Sharon Kwon explains it better than I can. I’m really stuck.
“I feel guilty writing this during Black History Month and in a time when all eyes should be on the injustices of anti-Blackness in America. I am fully aware that the oppression against Asians is nothing compared to what Black Americans have experienced and still experience to this day. It makes me want to sit back and hold my tongue, as I’ve become so accustomed to doing. It is this same conditioned minimization that sets off the narrative in my mind of your experience isn’t valid because you didn’t have it as bad. But comparing who had it worse and whataboutism doesn’t further anti-racism.”
So what do I do?
I sit with my fears. I sit with my anxiety. I name it. I give it the acknowledgement that it deserves then I ask it, gently, to step aside so I can keep going. It’s like I tell my daughter when she’s sad about something. She’s got to finish feeling sad before she can feel happy again. BUT I WANT TO BE HAPPY NOWWWWW, she sobs. So do I, baby. So do I.
These vulnerabilities need to breathe. They need to live a little in order for me to make sense of them and regain control of myself.
Every triggering headline, every story I hear from my fellow AAPI – they all need to be processed in my head and heart so that I can develop a better understanding of those unpleasant feelings and move forward with my day. The increased self-awareness I achieve with this practice has helped me deflect lingering negativity (without venturing into denial) and has empowered me to focus on the things I can control.
I cannot control the hateful actions of others, but I can raise my children to be anti-racist.
I cannot predict if I will be a victim of a crime, but I can take self-defense classes.
I cannot make people care about me or the causes that are important to me, but I can care about others. Hopefully that kind of care spreads the furthest influence.
PLEASE CLICK HERE for resources on supporting your fellow AAPI friends and colleagues.
And if you do anything at all, please start with pronouncing our names correctly. Thank you.
SOON CHUNG PARK, 74
SUNCHA KIM, 69
YONG AE YUE, 63
HYUN JUNG GRANT, 51
XIAOJIE TAN, 49
DELAINA YAUN, 33
DAOYOU FENG, 44
PAUL ANDRE MICHELS, 54