My mom has been pretty scared to leave the house for the last year. It’s not just because of the fear of catching the virus, but also because of the anti-Asian hate crimes that have gone up over a thousand percent in this country since stupid politicians kept calling the virus the “China virus” or “kung flu.” My parents are the king and queen of keeping up with scary news, so they have heard all of the stories of the elderly Asians who have been punched, beaten, spat on, pushed down. They’ve heard of the Asians who have been stabbed. They’ve also heard of the ones who have been spat on, blamed for the virus, and told to “go back to China.”
My mom was telling me on the phone yesterday, “Don’t leave the house unless you have to. If you go out, only go with Chris because there’s power in numbers. They will beat you for no reason. Be careful!”
She said she doesn’t feel safe leaving the house by herself anymore, even to walk around the block for exercise, so she tries to only leave with my dad or my aunt. When she leaves the house now, she also said she will only take, at most, $10 with her, in fear that someone will rob her. “It doesn’t matter if it’s just $5, but they will stab you and take your five dollars!” she exclaimed. I suggested she get pepper spray. She said she’d have no idea how to use it and would be scared that it would be used against her. Well… okay, good point.
My mom has been through a very hellish life, particularly for her first 20 years. Then, she immigrated to this country hoping for better opportunities and a good future for her soon to be son and daughter, the way most immigrants have hope for a better tomorrow. What she probably never thought about when she was on that plane from Saigon to San Francisco is the racism she’d have to endure here as a person of Asian descent.
It is a sad reality to think about: racism existed then. It exists now. And when you’re Asian in a society that seems to only “get” race as “Black and White,” you’re just invisible. Hate crimes against your people don’t even get labeled “hate crimes.” It’s like your life doesn’t even matter. It’s been a really depressing week.