Stand Against Anti-Asian Racism In The Time Of COVID-19

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On a regular Wednesday, right before news of the global pandemic of COVID-19 started filling my social media timelines, I picked my youngest up from preschool. We walked across the parking lot, her navy-blue backpack covered in colorful cat faces hanging from her shoulders, almost reaching the backside of her knees.  She had blue paint on her fingers and face, and her ponytail sagged down by the back of her neckevidence of a full morning of fun activities and the privilege of preschool play. I asked her the same questions I ask every day when we walk across the parking lot to get to our silver minivan.  How was your day?  What was your favorite part?  Did you eat your lunch?

My Korean mama asked me that last question every day, too, because, like most Korean mamas, her love language is food.  Not food by way of gifts, mind you. Her love language is food and it stands on its own.

After piling in the car and showing me all of the crafts she made, she tells me a classmate of hers said that her “lunch smelled like puke.”  That day, like many days, I filled her tiny Hello Kitty bento box with hot white rice, dark green rectangles of salty, roasted seaweed, and an egg. Her friend not only told her that her lunch smelled like puke, but also started acting as if she would vomit in a performance for the whole class to see.

Now, I know kids can be a certain way about food, especially unfamiliar food and scent. I was a kid, and I have three of my own. Thankfully, my daughter’s teacher stepped in right away, affirming the fact that we all eat different foods and responding rudely to something different isn’t okay.

My little girl wasn’t too bothered, and she still takes her favorite food to school without any hesitation.

But, it bothered me. This tiny incident that some will brush off as “kids being kids” struck a chord with me. I don’t expect kids to act like adults who should know a thing or two about the way that othering leads to racism. But sadly  I have come to expect the racism that’s embedded in our nation’s history to rise to the surface of everyday life, even cute preschool lunch tables.

SheLovelys, I need you to know that the racism that has popped up all over news headlines and neighborhoods everywhere has always been here. It’s not shocking, considering the year we live in. However it is shocking that considering our nation’s history, individuals are still surprised or offended when the word “racism” comes up in conversation. It’s what led me to hate and hide who I was for most of my childhood and life; years that I can’t get back. It’s a daily reality for my black and brown brothers and sisters suffering from white supremacy every hour of the day in ways much worse than I have ever known.

In the time of COVID-19, it’s impossible to assimilate my body enough to escape from the Anti-Asian racism that’s always been there. It has been there since the days of The U.S. Chinese Exclusion Act, the internment of innocent Japanese Americans, and it now stretches into my shelter-in-place thoughts when I consider stepping outside my front door.

On one of our daily family walks this week, a pick-up truck drove by. Our neighborhood is friendly, and most of the passersby I see say hello or wave from their car windows. I don’t recognize this truck or the woman in the truck, but her glare is unmistakable. She looks at me, then down at my daughter whose hand is in mine, and back up at me again. I tell myself: don’t be paranoid, she probably just has a game-winning RBF. You can’t say anything about it, because you don’t know, and if you tell anyone she was glaring, or how it made you feel in the time of COVID-19, they will accuse you of trying to be make everything political, complaining about nothing, always talking about race, and being one of those people that makes white people feel nervous about everything they say. Maybe she’s intoxicated like the guy who called you and your daughter ching-chong after the flag-waving Freedom Festival just down the street from your neighborhood a few years ago. 

I consider how these inner-dialogue statements have made me feel my whole life. It is as if my fear and anxiety is okay, but speaking up and making someone else consider their words or actions is not.

If I’m honest, it feels like something huge or devastating has to happen for me to justify opening my mouth and making a fuss. I’m always weighing my words. If it’s a big enough deal, I can say something or post about it without being accused of playing victim, causing division, or being too political. Unfortunately, this feels mostly true in Christian circles.

Church, it should not be this way. If you say you believe that every human being on earth is made in the Imago Dei and is worthy of being treated and protected as such, please take a stand against every incident of racism and the things that lead to it. It shouldn’t take Asian American children being stabbed at grocery stores with their family, to convince you that it’s real.

A group of Asian American Christian leaders have formed a group called the “Asian American Christian Collaborative” and have spent long, late nights writing a statement that denounces the current rise in Anti-Asian racism due to COVID-19. There are thousands of signatures on it. Each signature represents a real person who is committed to taking a public stand against what’s happening to Asian American community right now.

Each signature, no matter who you are, represents hope for all of us. 

Please read, consider, sign and share the statement here

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Editor’s Note: SheLoves Magazine is standing with the Asian American Christian Collaborative and is signing their statement and petition calling for an immediate end to the xenophobic rhetoric, hate crimes, and violence that are affecting the Asian American community.

Anti-Asian racism has been on the rise since the outbreak of the novel coronavirus in December 2019. In the last two weeks of March 2020, Asian Americans have reported nearly 1,000 incidents of racism. That number is expected to rise.
Will you join us in standing with the Asian American Christian Collaborate and signing the statement? You can join the Asian American Christian Collaborative on Facebook or go to www.asianamericanchristiancollaborative.com for resources to empower and equip you as individuals, organizations, and churches for faithful action to address anti-Asian racism.
Image designed by Jocelyn Chung.
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Tasha Jun

Tasha Jun

Tasha is a melancholy day dreamer, a Korean girl, wife to Matt, and mama to three little warriors: two wild boys and one little lady. She loves French fries, world maps, coffee, spicy soup and wandering the world. As long as she can remember, she’s lived and stood in places where cultures collide, longing for home. She’s always homesick, and Jesus keeps loving her towards home. She writes at tashajun.com.
Tasha Jun
Tasha Jun