Be Better

Dear Allies, 

I know you all saw the news headlines on March 17th. “Man charged with killing 8 people at Georgia massage parlors”. Of these 8 people who tragically lost their lives, 6 of them were of Asian descent. State representative Bee Nguyen claimed that the shootings appeared to be at the intersection of gender-based violence, misogyny and xenophobia, while some knucklehead officer, whose name is so completely irrelevant, stated that the murder suspect was simply having “a bad day”. Far too often, it seems, whenever there’s a mass shooter who has white complexion we simply call it “someone suffering from mental health”. I could go into why that statement is so overused and is a huge reason as to why mental health stigma is still running rampant everywhere in our society but that’s not why I’m writing this. I’m writing this because, as we see racial tensions and tension between men & women elevate to a point that we haven’t seen in a long time, I just have to ask.

What the fuck are we, as allies, doing?

I’m not going to sit here and pretend like the hate that we see in our society wasn’t propelled by the hateful spewing that the former president (and his followers) would do almost every time they got a chance. In fact, it would be a straight up lie to say that the comments (specifically those about “kung flu”) had no effect whatsoever on what we saw in the news just a couple of days ago. And so, a lot of blame has to go to this man and the people around him who used their platform in the most negative way possible. But in this lies the problem.

This is the part that frustrates me the most, and it’s something that we see way too much of. Allies (people much like myself) love to put the blame ANYWHERE else. It’s very easy to point our fingers towards the orange troll in office and call him a racist bigot and blame him for the elevated levels of inexplicable hate that we’re witnessing. What’s harder is taking this time and energy to look internally and ask ourselves “am I doing enough for my brothers and sisters?” 

We saw it with Black Lives Matter (“Oh this doesn’t affect me, I’m not racist, my cousin’s friend is black, so this isn’t about me”), with women’s rights (#NotAllMen trending above #SarahEverard), with gay/transgender rights (“Saying “that’s gay” doesn’t make me homophobic!”) and we’re seeing it now with our actions towards the Asian community; instead of openly being supportive and being present in the fight for equality, we’re being quiet. “That shooter wasn’t racist, he was just having a bad day. Kung Flu is a joke, I don’t mean it seriously- so this doesn’t apply to me.” 

This inequality, this hatred, has been fed to us FOREVER; long before 2016. And to point all the blame to the former president instead of doing our part is both lazy and, frankly, selfish. It’s cowardly. It’s an easy escape. And it’s completely missing the point. By throwing the blame somewhere else, we are regressing instead of moving forward. By pointing fingers instead of realizing that it takes all of us to make change, we’re hurting, not helping. 

When I was in the early years of elementary school, I had had a crush on one of my friends. When other students found out and realized that the girl I had a crush on was South Asian, we were both immediately heckled. We would constantly be bombarded at recess on the playground from hoards of other students who kept repeating things like: “You’ve seen what she eats right? Gross”, “She’s not from here, why would you like THAT?”, “How could you have a crush on her, she isn’t even white

This is a hatred that has been fed to us since birth. This is nothing new. And it’s up to our generation to get a hold of it and change the course. Yes, chances are you’re telling the truth when you say “I’m not racist” or “I would never sexually assault a woman”. But those are just words, and actions speak much louder. It’s time to do the uncomfortable work (if you haven’t started already, then it’s seriously time to play catch up), look within ourselves, identify how we can contribute- not just to ourselves but to our inner circles and our communities- and make some serious change. Because I, for one, am exhausted at seeing so many of us allies pointing fingers and distributing blame. I’m tired of the half-ass support that ultimately does nothing (Yes, I’m looking at all of you who posted a black square then went back into hiding, or the people who reposted one story, felt like they were in the clear from judgement, then went back home and told a racist joke to their friends). I’m tired of people chiming into these events and discussions and treating them like trends, only to forget about them when the popularity seems to be dying down and go back to the way they were. Frankly, there’s no time or place for that superficial garbage. We’re talking about peoples’ lives and security, not likes on an Instagram post. 

We love appropriating cultures like the Native American culture. We love listening to R&B, jazz and hip hop. We love going out to a restaurant and ordering ethnic food because “we’re quirky”. Some of our favorite movies are “Parasite” and “Crazy Rich Asians”. And yet, when people are marching the streets simply asking to be viewed as equal, to be able to walk outside at night without fearing getting gunned down or sexually assaulted, to be able to feel comfortable in a room or crowd that they have every right to be in, we fall silent and point the blame elsewhere so that we aren’t inconvenienced. 

As allies we need to be better. We need to be there. We need to put our energy and time into the right things. Stop pointing the blame to everyone else and stop acting like you’re so holy. Stop trying to cancel cartoon shows and old Eminem songs and start making actual significant changes. Use your platforms- whether on social media or in the real world- to spread information and raise awareness. March alongside everyone in the streets and, if there are no active movements or fundraisers going on in your community, organize them. 

This can’t keep happening. If you really truly give a shit like you constantly claim to, prove it.