Why I won’t lash back against the Anti-Asian racists

In the United StatesThere’s been a rise in anti-Asian racist incidents, mostly against women. Some of it appears to relate to the stereotype that Asian women are meek and subservient. In this week’s Japan Story blog, Tomoko Parry gives her reaction. Illustration by Yuka Morita.

In recent weeks, I have been staring at my ‘yellow’ face in the mirror, wondering if it’s safe to go out.

My anxiety levels have risen following a rise in violence against Asian people in my adopted country of the United States. 

Cities around the country have seen upticks in hate crimes against Asians since the start of the pandemic. One analysis conducted by researchers at California State University, San Bernardino, found that hate crimes targeting Asians in 16 of the largest U.S. cities increased 149% between 2019 and 2020. Over the same period, overall reports of hate crimes declined by 7%, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The fact that the coronavirus was first identified in China has led some people to irrationally blame Asian-Americans. Racists make no distinction between our diverse backgrounds.

Personally, I have not been the victim of violence, although I have received my share of discrimination. And I am angry at what I have seen. When our elders are harmed, and our sisters and brothers are intimidated, we cannot just look away.  We have to rise up and stand together.

Racism against Asians in the USA is nothing new. It may have been somewhat nuanced compared to other minorities, at least until now, but it has been here all along. A negative attitude among some people towards Asian Americans and immigrants is now out in the open. And because of that, we must look squarely into the face of racism, hate and violence.

We Asians were taught to respect our elders. Inflicting violence onto senior Asian Americans and immigrants is cowardly and vile.  

I was moved when I saw reports about the volunteer groups that have sprung up around the U.S., patrolling the streets of Asian communities from New York City to California. They have multiple goals: to escort individuals worried about their safety where they need to go, check in on community members, and if needed, intervene if they see someone being harassed.

Part of me wants to join them. Another part yearns to punch back against our attackers.

Yet after I shared my anxiety, I received an outpouring of love and support from my friends which helped dissipate my anger.  I now realize that punching back at the attackers won’t solve the problem.  Hate cannot conquer hate.  I must trust the words of Martin Luther King Jr. “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”