Opinion

Sullivan Addresses Open Letter to Non-Asian Peers

by Sophie Sullivan

Opinion Editor

To my silent non-Asian peers:

3,795. This is the reported number of hate incidents against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) in 346 days (Mar. 19, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021). In Stop AAPI Hate’s Mar. 16 report, the organization further noted that for every AAPI male victim who reports anti-Asian violence, more than two women experience it as well. Nearly 70 percent of all hate incidents involve verbal harassment, and more than a tenth involve physical assault. Almost 45 percent (1,691) of all incidents took place in our home state of California.

3,795. Can you imagine that many individuals all together? Can you visualize nearly 4,000 hate crimes taking place in less than one year? Can you picture 1,691 of your AAPI peers in your own state?

And still, if you’re surprised, you haven’t been paying attention. As far as data take us in hinting at the magnitude of anti-Asian sentiment, the numbers fail to reflect how much violence goes unreported, how integrated racism and oppression are into our society, and how normalized these incidents feel. Yet — as I’ve learned from personal experiences, as well as conversations with my AAPI peers — ironically, it often isn’t the physical, verbal, or emotional violence we feel that cuts the deepest. It’s the silence of our non-Asian peers: those who are watching, waiting, wondering, as we plead for help.

Silence is compliance. Silence is choosing the side of the oppressor. Silence is the most deafening cry you could make while our 婆婆们, our 公公们, our 阿姨们 and our uncles hit the ground — beautiful people abused and murdered and silenced while you shrink back in indifference.

In choosing not to use your voice — whether you’re afraid, you believe you don’t have the capacity, or you don’t care — you are not pushing the issue aside. You are pushing it onto those who are hurting the most. In silence, you feel untouched; in silence, you deflect the punches onto us.

I want to ask my silent non-Asian peers a series of questions to help you understand that which you do not understand:

In the past months, how many victims of explicit hate crimes have you seen in the media who look like your grandma?

Have you thought through what you and your family will do if someone is attacked in a racist hate crime?

Have you considered the area you’re traveling to, and if it’s been the sight of recent anti-Asian assaults?

And my final question: What will it take?

Will it take my mother’s bruised face on the media for you to speak your first word of defiance against anti-Asian hate? Will it take videos of my elderly grandfather fighting back for his life? Will this be enough?

Please — listen, advocate, fight, protect, donate, support, love. Hear our cries. Take action.

“Sometimes I wonder if the Asian-American experience is what it’s like when you’re thinking about everyone else, but nobody else is thinking about you.” -Steven Yeun

(Source: Stop AAPI Hate)

Categories: Opinion

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