What My Asian Sisters Say

Some of the language in this post is gut-level honest and may not be appropriate for younger children.

It has been a terrible day in Asian America, as so many of us feel the enormous weight of the news out of the Atlanta area. You’ve likely already heard about it, too – the mass murder of eight precious human beings, six of them Asian women.

I’ve especially felt moved by the outpouring of grief and anger from Asian American women. Because while these killings impact every Asian American, it’s Asian American women who feel the horror most viscerally. It’s almost so obvious that we might miss it – these weren’t just acts of racialized hate, but they were particularly directed at Asian women.

I don’t know who created this, but it’s powerful. I first saw it shared by @Sharon59 on Twitter.

I don’t really, truly know what that is like. As an Asian American man, I have privilege that insulates me from the greater frequency and severity of oppression that my Asian sisters suffer. Part of it is the privilege of being a man in an America that still strongly advantages men. Another part of it is the male privilege that endures in Asian American circles, a cringey inheritance from the patriarchal cultures of our ancestors.

I can’t know from experience what it is like to grow up and to take up space as an Asian woman in this country. Yet I have heard so many stories from so many friends, and I have seen many incidents with my own eyes, that tell me Asian women have a much more difficult path to navigate in our society.

By Julie Young, Esq., founder of the Brooklyn-based TIDE Film Festival, showcasing work by filmmakers of color. Julie’s Instagram is here.

It seems almost universally true that Asian American women are familiar with the mix of gender hate and race hate that erupted in gunfire early Tuesday evening in Georgia. It is an evil rooted largely in prevalent stereotypes among non-Asian men of what Asian girls and women are supposed to be like. Yet if that were not enough, Asian American women also have to put up with persistent harassment from a segment of the Asian American male population; these men feel entitled to the affections of Asian women, and label Asian women who choose non-Asian partners as race traitors. The online trolling is especially pernicious.

Asian women have to put up with a hell of a lot. Yet in the midst of it, I see so many Asian women standing tall and proud, speaking their truth and doing so without apology. It is very much counter to the cultural expectations of previous generations. They refuse to cower; they don’t wait around for someone to rescue them; they give the proverbial finger to those who try to silence them. They are full of love and compassion and courage and strength. They are badasses.

By Hansoom, a Korean artistic project. See their Instagram here.

So as we reflect on the absolutely horrific events of this past week, I want to use my space here to highlight the voices of my Asian sisters. They say things so much better than I can; their eloquence is born out of their experience. Here are some of their recent tweets, many of which begin threads with very meaningful comments, which I encourage you to read in their entirety. I’ve also included a link to an insightful blog post from a college junior.

May we all listen and learn.

First, though, a quick primer on the stereotypes of Asian women:

As to the events of this past week, Dr. Nancy Wang Yuen, a sociology professor at Biola University and author of the critically acclaimed Reel Inequality: Hollywood Actors and Racism, spoke with Canadian news outlet CP24:

Here’s some of the reaction Dr. Yuen got:

Dr. Yuen has been interviewed by a number of other news outlets over the last several days, one of them being NPR’s All Things Considered:

NBC Asian America’s Kimmy Yam addresses the same issue and expands on it:

Jenny Yang, most widely known for her comedic stand-up and activism, probably best puts into words what so many of us Asian Americans feel:

By Julia Kestner of Julia Kestner Designs. Visit her website.

Jenn Fang has the longest-running Asian American feminist blog out there; I’ve probably learned more about Asian American feminism from her than anyone else:

Jenn’s piece for The Washington Post (view it in an incognito window if you get paywalled):

Journalist Christine Bumatay asked for stories, and readers responded:

Author Christine Liwag Dixon recalls some of the specific ways she’s experienced the sexualized racism so many Asian American women and girls have:

Southern California journalist Josie Huang expresses some of the questions many Asian Americans are puzzling over:

By Lisa Wool-Rim Sjöblom. Visit her Instagram.

Christian minister and author Kathy Khang addresses the murderer’s religious roots:

Kathy also speaks a word of truth to ministers, of whom I was one for a number of years:

International news producer Heidi Shin on talking with kids:

Linda Sue Park, award-winning author of numerous books for young readers, on how we can respond when we hear people say dumb racist stuff:

By Amira Lin for the Asian American Feminist Collective’s March 2020 zine. Visit her website and see the AAFC issue.

Nicole Chung, one of America’s most incredible writers and author of the best-selling memoir All You Can Ever Know:

Nicole’s heartfelt reflections in TIME:

And as so many Asian American women experience when they dare to share an opinion, especially online, she got this:

A Generation Z perspective comes from college junior Alyssa Yeh. Her post in its entirety can be found here. She begins:

Finally, but not least significantly, here are comments from the highest-ranking Asian American woman in the country: