By Joanna Chin | Staff Writer
In response to the ongoing racial discrimination and violence against our AAPI neighbors, we decided to make space for some of their stories and thoughts through a series we’re calling “The Preferably Unheard.” Part one of this series focused on engaging the silences around anti-Asian racism. In this next part, our interviewees discuss what it looks like to serve and support those who identify with AAPI communities.
Allyship and Action
Question: What is one thing you want non-AAPI identified folks to know if they want to be actively in solidarity with AAPI communities?
Bobby (34, Chinese-American):
Acknowledging and desiring to stand with us is a huge start; next would be to listen and learn from our experiences. Ask your AAPI friends to share their experiences and encourage them to advocate and speak up for themselves.
Irene (25, Filipino-American):
Please continue to help build awareness of racism against the AAPI community. Although there have occasionally been reports about the rise of attacks on national news media outlets — especially since the start of the pandemic — I feel that they definitely were not covered to the fullest extent until the Atlanta spa shootings. It is my hope that moving forward, more folks will be aware of what is happening to the AAPI community thanks to the support of allies.
Eva (42, Chinese-American):
AAPI are not a monolith…Take the time to at least learn about the diversity and listen to our stories. There is a common thread of being treated as the “Other” because of the way we look, of never being regarded as American no matter how many generations our family has been in this country and how perfect our English is. And the jarring thing for us as Asian Americans is we never know when that judgment will rear its head.
We go along thinking we are accepted and belong and then WHAM — someone makes a comment either blatantly or subtly, and we realize that we are still the Other, and we are not seen as belonging in this country.
James (27, Chinese-American & Taiwanese-American):
Speaking for myself — certainly not the broad AAPI coalition — I would say to focus less on moral posturing, e.g. putting a “denouncing hate” statement on social media, and spend more time listening to peoples’ stories and lived experiences and bolstering the relationships that you have with AAPI friends. I think that’s the best first step for most people.
Trying to tackle larger systemic issues and being educated on them is important but can be kind of overwhelming and, in my opinion, must be first founded on genuine relationships and a vision for common human dignity, e.g. Imago Dei, to be sustainable, compassionate, and forward-looking.
Li* (25, Chinese/Indonesian):
Pay attention to our non-East Asians. I think actually, that’s the big one. Their voices don’t always get heard. And I think they really, really feel the pain of the violence recently, but we don’t have the words for it, because so much of the focus has been on East Asians, like even the rallies that have happened…
I think there’s no right or wrong in terms of that these are all perspectives and stories. And they’re all helpful because they’re all real. They’re all valid. They’re all necessary, I think, in these conversations and figuring out…how do you address things that are so complex and yet so pervasive? And how does everyone get involved in this, because it connects to all of us?
*name changed at interviewee’s request
From Silence to Solidarity
For those of us who don’t identify as AAPI, it can be tempting to come in with a million solutions and action plans to tackle these deep-seated problems of racial injustice out of our zeal to help. But the complexity and historical nature of this issue actually requires us to seek out and submit to our neighbors to avoid speaking over them.
They are the experts of their stories and experiences, and they can give voice to what is needed in their communities right now. Let us enter into their pain and tension and hope with humility. Let us allow their voices to shape our next steps as compassionate collaborators and advocates for justice.