Since yesterday, the news has been buzzing around a Memorial Day incident that happened in the Ramble, a protected part of Central Park here in New York City that is known for its vast and diverse array of flora and fauna, particularly birds that you would never quite imagine in the middle of a concrete jungle. That early morning, a white woman had allowed her dog to go unleashed in this area, which is against the rules of this section of Central Park. An avid birder, who happened to be a black man, was also in the area and noticed that this dog was running around unleashed, and asked the woman to leash her dog. They started to argue, and a debate ensued, which ended with the birder recording the woman on his phone, as she not only nearly strangled her dog but said she would call 911, asserting that an “African American man was threatening my and my dog’s life.” She called them, insisting they come immediately, and the birder also yelled and said they should come, too. There are a lot of terrible and ridiculous aspects to discuss about this from white female privilege to abuse of power to racism to subconscious racism masked as “fear” as this woman called it, but I’m not going to go into the details here.
My cousin sent me an updated article this morning, noting that the woman had been fired from her job after her employer initially put her on forced leave. He said, “Black man calls racism and the whole world listens. An Asian person calls racism and no one listens.”
While my initial knee-jerk response was to tell him that he was being pathetic, that he has no idea what it’s like to be a black man in a world where a black man cannot even jog on a road safely without fear of being shot and killed (and, having the perpetrators get away with it unnoticed for over two months, for that matter), that his problems are nothing compared to that of a black person growing up in this country, I didn’t say that and thought about it for a bit. And I realized that there actually is some element of truth to what he said.
Why do I say this? Well, since COVID-19 broke out in China and literally made its way across the globe, countless racist incidents, from slurs to graffiti to vandalizing of Asian-owned businesses to outright shootings and stabbings, have been committed against Asians everywhere. And you know what? I learned about the majority of these incidents not through CNN or the New York Times or Fox News, but through local media sources, Asian social media groups I belong to, and even Asian personalities in the arts and food world I follow on Instagram. It never made any major headlines when an entire Asian family was stabbed at a grocery store in Texas by a racist, enraged man. When I learned of the Asians who were stabbed in Melbourne, Australia a month ago, no one was really talking about it. And then there’s the most recent incident in San Leandro, California, where a white woman physically went door to door to every house she knew had Asian people inhabiting it and posted a letter telling the families to “go back where you came from.” She eventually got arrested with a basket of these racist letters in hand. “If you are a woman or man and was born in other country, return, go back to your land immediately, fast, with urgency,” the note said. It ended with “One American, white, brave, that serves the Nation or USA is going to live here.”
There’s no major headlines about this in The New York Times, in CNN, and like Breitbart really cares. It’s like the model minority stereotype of Asians has truly hurt Asians in the long run here because we’re supposed to persevere, be silent, and just work hard and shut up to become successful and have “good lives.” The media do not care about Asians, and they won’t cover them in news because society doesn’t seem to care. It’s sad, but it’s pretty true.
So, I didn’t tell my cousin he was being pathetic. I just said that there was some truth to it. However, it’s not like black people have it better AT ALL than Asians because while these headlines may make the news, what laws and actual enforcement are happening to improve the lives of black people here….?!