Why don’t you write how you feel in this climate of heightened awareness of racial discrimination against those of Asian descent?
The question when it came shouldn’t have surprised me.
After all, I am the proud mother of two Asian boys and a writer, to boot.
So why did I sit there with a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face and not say a word? Simple, in my mind: I’m not Asian.
I’ve never been called slurs that cut to the heart or seen gestures obviously racist toward my heritage. I’ve never, to my knowledge, had my speech made fun of or disappointed someone because I should have been smarter based on where I was born.
I’m white, living in the middle of predominately white communities.
Although I have cried tears for those who have faced this racism and offered the best advice toward dealing with it as I can — who hasn’t been bullied in their lifetimes — the truth is I cannot begin to understand what it is like as a minority living in a place where I am perceived as different and — even worse — inferior.
The only thing I have to compare it to is that I am a woman, and even that pales in comparison to what people of different races and nationalities have faced in this country.
Another reason for my fear of writing on this subject is simply that: Fear. It is the fear of turning the eyes of hatred and racism and bullying toward my children and those around me who face the reality of this every day.
If I just keep quiet, so very quiet, maybe that hatred will go away. It’s a tactic of those who are bullied — to not give the bully the attention he wants. Often, it works, and the person quits the behavior or turns it on someone else, and you feel guilty for being relieved it’s not you. But it’s just a decoy, to make the wolf turn away for a little while.
Fueled by hate crimes and the shootings in Georgia, recently those of Asian descent have determined that this hatred — this racism — is not going away, and being quiet only deflects the hatred and does nothing to end it and prevent it being passed along to new generations.
So they are speaking out, and who better to speak out about how they feel than they, themselves?
And I encourage all people of Asian and Pacific Islander descent in this community to come forward, to talk about how they feel, to show others how they feel, to face that fear and overcome it.
I applaud them, for they truly are the ones who can answer the question about how they feel. And I encourage myself and others around them to stand behind them, to have their backs and to not shy away.
It’s hard, when it is your friend, your loved one, your children.
But there comes a time when it is necessary. It won’t be easy. It’s never easy. And if they don’t come forward, it is still our responsibility to stand up for them.
And so I thought a little harder about the question above that began all of this, and I realized it was phrased a little differently when asked of me: Maybe you want to write about how you feel as a mother of children who are Asian.
For that, I feel a little more qualified.
Years ago, I talked to a mom of Asian and Black children. During a workshop I listened to her tell me and other parents to stand up for their children. And so, in the middle of a time of heightened awareness of Black Lives Matter, I argued that Asian lives mattered as well. And truth is, all lives do matter. But the pushback to my claims was that now is the time for the BLM movement.
Someone likened the situation to all houses mattering, but when one is on fire the attention turns toward the fight to save the one. It helped me to understand.
Now is the time when that fire is being faced by those of Asian descent, and we need to turn attention to this matter. As a mother, I will fight with all my might to bring awareness to those who might not see the fire because it is not touching their lives at the time.
It’s hard when it is your friend, your loved one, your children.
It’s even harder when it’s you.
Don’t turn away. #stopasianhate
Hassler is the digital content coordinator for the Enid News & Eagle.