Dear Asian Hate,
You kept me up last night. Six Asian women were murdered. And I like so many others, cannot digest the influx of emotion that have pillaged the life I lived just yesterday. How did it get to this? Tell me, how much worse is it going to get?
“Xiao could have been my mother. My mother would have fought back.”
Images of blood-soaked seniors, crying out, with nobody listening haunt me. Xiao Zhen Xie cannot see out of her swollen left eye. She cried “he’s picking on me” as paramedics told her to “calm down”. Xiao fought off Steven Jenkins, her attacker, with a wooden stick. Nevertheless, was left sobbing alone as she watched paramedics put him on a stretcher. Xiao could have been my mother. My mother would have fought back.
I try to forget the video of an elderly man, flying backward, his head ricocheting against the concrete. Despite my efforts, it plays repeatedly in my mind. Vichar Ratanapakdee, or “Grandpa” as his neighbours lovingly called him, succumbed to his injuries. Vichar was murdered. Antoine Watson, his 19 year old murderer is claiming temporary insanity, stating that it was not a hate crime. Vichar could have been my father.
I remember the slashed face of a Filipino man. A boxcutter ripped his flesh from ear to ear as he stood on the subway. “Nobody came, nobody helped”, Noel Quintanna whimpered. I can almost touch his scars, they run so deep, I have no doubt he will have nightmares. I have nightmares over it. Noel could have been my brother.
“These women could have been my friends.”
I reluctantly hear the press conference of the six Asian women who were shot to death. “He was having a bad day” Cherokee County’s captain, Jay Baker stated. These arrogant six words represent so much that is wrong in our world, and promted a reporter to ask “are you shaming the victims?” Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Ae Yue, these women could have been my friends.
There are so many images. Teens surrounding an Asian man, striking him in the head. A women pushed so hard, her body flies into metal newsstands. A senior weeps as teens taunt him, he reaches out in vain for the tin cans that served as his only source of income. How could anyone do this to another human being? What makes you despise me that much?
Asian Hate, I have fought back the tears. I have wanted to cry for all the victims. For their families. I have even wanted to cry for your skillful and almost strategic transition from one brain to another. You cultivate poison that annihilates all forms of rationale. Empathy replaces toxic ignorance. Logic with baseless fear. You assume the body undetected and tell it to act. You convince its inhibitor that I am the enemy. To stop me at any cost. To stand by as I am being attacked, and do nothing. Yet, regardless of all this, I do not want to cry, I detest giving you the satisfaction. But still, the tears reluctantly flow.
“I pray we never meet again.”
As a consequence of your infectious spread, I now visualize what I would do if you and I ever came face to face. What would I say? More importantly, what should I say? If I respond, will I put myself in more danger? I play over in my head what I should do if you came at me in the form of violence. If it was a boxcutter, like in Noel’s nightmare, I would sacrifice my arms to protect my face. If you pushed me, I would grab on so the force from the concrete would not crack my head. And if you punched me, I would have to anticipate it somehow. Then my mind always races, my breath quickens, for how do I protect my parents? Relatives? Friends? Community?
If you have to come, come for me. If I ever see you, I’ll stand up for myself. You best believe that I will put up a good fight. Asian Hate, come after me and you will quickly realize that you came after the wrong victim. I am so enraged, so furious my fits ball at the thought. Still, I pray we never meet again.
You laugh because I am scared. Yes, I am afraid, for I don’t want to be anything like you. I feel your poison yearning to infect every part of me. How easy it would be to join the dark side, to hate you back. You’ve killed so many of us now, would it be so wrong to return some of that pain? You have shown no remorse, no indication that you’ll back down. Yet in the face of all this, I, we won’t let you win. We were taught better.
“Rather, we rise hand in hand, in solidarity with the rest of our brothers and sisters.”
Similar to the virus currently plaguing the world, its days, like yours, are numbered. Because in spite of all that you have done to my community, we do not blame your existence on anyone other than the individuals who attack us. You and only you are guilty. To your surprise, we do not encourage hate with more hate. We do not stand divided or bitter. Rather, we rise hand in hand, in solidarity with the rest of our brothers and sisters. Our global family of different races, religions, genders, beliefs, and of different backgrounds. We are here, united.
Asian Hate. Hate. Racism, you will not win this battle. In fact, you have already lost.
UPDATE: Xiao Zhen Xie, the grandmother who fought off her attacker, to donate the almost $1 million dollars raised through her GoFundMe to combat Asian American community to fight racism.
“She also stated multiple times to donate all the funds generated in this GoFundMe back to the Asian American community to combat racism. She insists on making this decision saying this issue is bigger than Her. This is my grandma, grandpa, and our family’s decision. We hope everyone can understand our decision – John Chen, nephew and Organizer