Writing and compiling this blog has left me stirring with a mix of emotions. Sadness and anger are the most poignant, I’m disgusted and hopeless. But moments like these call for courage, and we must push hope to persevere. As I try to look ahead, what carries my traces of hope is excitement by the opportunity write about the Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) communities since it’s the month of May. Almost a lifetime ago, I wrote my feelings about the Black Lives Matter Movement; and by the way, Black Lives still matter.
Fear-mongering and racism, which has always existed, only recently being reported on, has shown its ugly face yet again. The senseless and cowardly beatings of vulnerable Asian populations, and the murder of Asian women in the United States is a reflection of our country’s deep rooted racism, polarizing politics, and scarily efficient and effective use of scare tactics. This is not normal. The “normalization” of violence in this country is deeply disturbing. This should not be normal.
Recent events have left me lingering on my own experiences. I have been “privileged” enough to not pass for “Asian”, or “White” (Honestly, that’s a whole identity crisis I don’t feel like delving into). I’m angry that I have to question if my mother will be safe when she goes out in public. I’m angry that when I was a little girl I was ashamed to bring “smelly” Japanese lunches to school. I’m angry that my culture was only celebrated by others when it was convenient, or trendy to them. I’m angry that my sense of identity has always been questioned since I’m “only half Asian”. I’m angry people think it’s funny to speak to me in Spanish since I “look Mexican”. No more shame. I am proud to be half-Japanese. I am proud of my mother for following her dream of coming to the United States and carving out a life for herself here.
The month of May is Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month in the United States, and I would like to celebrate my heritage. I’ve done my best to collect resources and a variety of ways to celebrate and support AAPI peoples and Asian Communities. Gathering my thoughts and providing these resources is a small contribution to a tremendous issue, but it’s the least I could do.
NOTE: Do not donate to Change.org., just sign the petitions and ignore the prompts to donate. The funds only go to the website owners and to pay for advertising costs. Let your donation have bigger purpose, and donate to organizations who use their funds for more impactful purposes!
Buy from Asian Owned Bookstores
Rather than buying new releases or old favorites from Amazon or Half Price Books, try checking out local book shops.
Paragon Book Gallery, Chicago IL.
Femme Fire Books, Jacksonville, FL.
Orphan Books, (Mobile), based in Los Angeles, CA.
Kinokuniya, (Online and Brick and mortar), locations across the United States.
Support Asian Authors
There are talented Asian Authors all around the world, here are some links to author websites, and links to popular titles to check out as well.
And many, many more. Is there an author I missed? Please share in the comments!
Buy from Asian Owned Shops
Support Local Businesses
The Coronavirus has ravaged the restaurant industry, and it has disproportionately affected Asian-owned restaurants. (No, Panda Express and P.F Chang’s don’t count). A simple Google search of “local Asian owned restaurant” can be a great place to start.
Nothing local? Consider ordering art online from businesses in the section above.
Simply ordering takeout from your local Asian restaurant can be tremendous (don’t forget to tip!)
Asian Cultures are not a “personality” or a joke
(I can only speak for myself, and my own personal experience, so take it with a grain of salt). As a half-Japanese woman, the fetishization and fanaticism surrounding my culture has always made me roll my eyes. The blurring of English and Japanese: “Omg, that’s so Kawaii~” has never sat right with me. Tattoos with Asian characters that are gibberish make me grit my teeth. Jokes about Asian people being thin because chopsticks are difficult to use (Newsflash: like many of life’s skills, you need to take the time to practice).
I’ve heard every stereotype under the sun, and frankly, it seems that no one can be pleased. Asian woman are either hyper-sexualized, or too prudish. Meanwhile, Asian men are considered “unsexy”, passive, or “or hot, for an Asian guy”. Asian parents are portrayed as being ruthless and unloving, caring only about grades and extracurriculars. Asian men can be sexy, loud, and charismatic. Asian women can be strong, vibrant, and opinionated. Asian parents can be warm and loving.
Yes, stereotypes exist for a reason, and there will be people of all cultures and backgrounds who fit seamlessly into them; but this is no justification for racism.
Personally, I’ve always felt strange about being complimented that I’m lucky because I didn’t inherit “small eyes”.
Is Japanese culture awesome? Yes! Am I happy there are people around the world who love and appreciate it? Yes, of course! Just understand that there is so, so, much culture and history that goes deeper than anime/pop culture, and cute clothes and trendy foods. This goes for all cultures around the world.
Speaking up is never easy. Neither is change. Change doesn’t occur when we idly sit by. Boundaries need to be pushed, and racists need to know that their mindsets shouldn’t be tolerated. Racist mindsets should be challenged. Speak up safely. These resources can help you get started.
These resources barely scrape the tip of iceberg. Please share other resources below and help however you’re comfortable/able. Thank you for reading, and if you take one thing away from this, please, remember to just be kind.