“I’m going to read your post about ways to stop Asian hate,” my 17 year old daughter, Emily, told me late one night this past weekend. The next morning I woke up to a series of texts that shared her struggles with anti-Asian racism as a biracial teen.
As a family, we’ve always talked about race. Chinese culture and traditions are part of our life. Her texts were thoughtful and insightful but indicated an internal struggle with her racial identity. I didn’t know she had questions about how to handle anti-Asian racism as a biracial teen.
With her permission, the texts she shared with me became this blog post. The words and thoughts are her own and are being published to educate and inform others as we work together against anti-Asian racism. If you are reading this post on a site other than TechSavvyMama.com this means the website you are on is stealing my content and violating copyright laws.
By Emily Barr, age 17
Being half Chinese and half white, I’ve struggled to find a comfortable place within my racial identity.
My whole life, I’ve loved growing up attending lion dances, going out to dinner for Chinese New Year, eating mooncakes, and going out for dim sum with my family. It’s a is a part my family’s heritage that I really love.
But being half white didn’t spare me from getting teased in elementary and middle school and acutely in high school.
Teasing and name calling is typical for elementary classrooms, but it shouldn’t be when it’s about race. The names kids called me in class or jokes they made about Asian food or clothing had racist undertones.
In middle and high school, the name calling subsided but was replaced with stereotypical jokes and poking fun at Asian foods in my lunch.
Not only are these actions racist, but unfortunately they’ve become so normalized. People often don’t realize what they’re saying is hurtful. It’s also taken a long time for me to realize that these actions were, in fact, racism.
I’ve had a hard time deciding where I stand in the fight against racism towards Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAAPIs).
Over the summer, I saw videos of Asian Americans being attacked on the street, sworn at with racial slurs, and anti-Asian hate speech pertaining to COVID all over the internet. I wanted to say something.
But I felt that because I was mixed, I did not look “Chinese-enough.” Because I don’t experience racism in the way that “full-Chinese” might, I worried they’d think I wasn’t credible enough to say something. I thought someone would look at me and say, “Oh, she’s half white, she doesn’t get to stand up for Asians. She wouldn’t know what it’s like.”
And yes, that is true. I don’t entirely know what it’s like.
I’ve decided that being half Chinese does not discount my experiences with anti-Asian racism as a biracial teen. Although, I recognize that I am white passing and therefore, may never experience what other Asian Americans may be facing. However, it doesn’t mean I cannot stand up for myself or my fully-Chinese family.
So here I am, speaking out.
Over the past week I’ve become increasingly worried about the level of hate directed towards Asian communities. More importantly, I am scared.
I’m afraid of my grandparents and my mom being attacked on the street or subjected to these horrible racist acts. It pains me to think that my family could be the target of the next attack videos on the internet or the ones you hear about in the news.
As much as I don’t want it to happen to my family, I also don’t want it happening to anyone. At all. Ever again.
Racism against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders must stop.
I’m asking you to please stand with your local Asian communities in the fight against racism. Do your part.
Here’s how you can help me decrease Anti-Asian racism:
- Stop being a bystander. Learn what is offensive and racist and call these actions out. Learn what is offensive and racist and call these actions out.
- Diversify your social media feeds, bookshelves, TV-queues, and social lives. Exposure to Asian creators and Asian content can help you to understand AAPI culture and become more tolerant.
- Learn about the United States’s history of anti-Asian racism by reading about the Chinese Immigration and Chinese Exclusion Acts. Racism against Asians and Pacific Islanders is not new. Do more research to understand the history of violence towards AAPIs, including Japanese internment camps that are an example of American incarceration.
- Have the uncomfortable conversation. Ask your Asian friends about their experiences and how you can help them dismantle anti-Asian racism.
- Confront your implicit bias. Work to deconstruct your prejudices.
- Work to learn more about BIPOC communities. Dismantling racism is a process that requires continuous learning, understanding, and self reflection. It is not enough to just declare yourself as not-a-racist.
- Speak out! Silence is complicit.
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