Protest – reaction to the Atlanta shooting via The Nation

I am deeply saddened that an already deadly pandemic that killed so many of us has now sparked violence that took innocent healthy lives at a time when our country is digging our way out of this horrible era. Was it because certain political leaders chose to politicize the pandemic by blaming China for its release, and in doing so spawned an unprecedented Anti-Asian sentiment in the U.S.?  As a proud Asian American, I was concerned that anti-Asian sentiment would rise when public statements were made blaming China for the pandemic while at the same time I felt we could have done so much more to minimize the spread when it occurred. Sadly, politics was front and center instead, and the end-result is that the pandemic spread out of control and Asian Americans have become victimized and scapegoated and it has led to the rise of violent crimes against us. Of course, China could have, and should have, done better, but we could say the same when we first encountered AIDS and other epidemics when we didn’t know enough about these diseases. No one should be blamed, and everyone should be working together to fight diseases that are blind to race and ethnicity.

A big problem is how most Americans who are unfamiliar with Asian cultures rely on media and the entertainment industry’s portrayal of Asians, especially Asian women. The Atlanta shooter claimed that he associated Asians with his sexual fantasies, so how did he come to adopt that belief?  It is unfortunate that the sexualization of Asian women through the portrayal in the entertainment sector planted the seed; movies about white soldiers hooking up with Asian women during the Vietnam war, the Philippine war, WWII etc. I touched upon this stereotype in my book, but the problem exists today as the uninformed embrace stereotypes as reality and form beliefs that are totally based on fantasy.

Another concern I have is that the vocal minority seems to be outflanking the silent majority and their voices are heard and focused on when they should be ignored – a good example is the white supremist group that is given so much media attention recently; I am convinced they are a small population and that most Americans are a kind and generous people…yes, many of us need to be educated and learn to be sensitive to issues that we have put aside for so long, but movements like Black Lives Matter are helping our nation cope with issues that need to be addressed.  I view this as a timely paradigm shift in our culture as a country, and more white Americans seem to be paying attention to racial injustices and are actively engaged in supporting a more equitable system. 

We live in dangerous times when political beliefs trump science, and somehow a need arose to blame someone instead of working together to solve a global problem. I certainly hope our current political leaders will focus on solutions and we continue to dig our way out of the abyss we’ve been stuck in for over a year. But it is so sad to see violence on the rise when the need to unite should be our highest priority at this time!

I remain optimistic that our nation is evolving for the better as we struggle through these issues.  We have proven, over and over again, that we are a people who are not afraid of change, who are resilient, thoughtful, and proactive.  We are not perfect, but we strive to improve and perpetuate a lifestyle of freedom and prosperity for all, and we should not allow a minority group of haters and bigots define who we really are.

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