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On Atlanta

Community reflections on the AAPI female experience in America.

IMAGE COURTESY OF RINGO CHIU / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

To the WLI Community —

We mourn the victims of the massacre in Atlanta last Tuesday. Seven women were shot dead that night, six of whom were of Asian descent. Seven families lost daughters, sisters, mothers, wives.

This incident was rooted in racism and misogyny. And it represents the smallest fraction of the apathy and hatred that the AAPI community has faced and continues to face in America—throughout history and to this day.

If you are unfamiliar with the story of Asians and Asian women in America, as most of us are—it is almost always erased from our history textbooks, after all—please make an effort to educate yourself. The resources we’ve listed below are a great place to start. 

This story matters and should not be left invisible.

We stand in solidarity with the AAPI community as we grapple with this tragedy—as well as the ongoing, racially-motivated violence committed against the community, often targeting its most vulnerable.

To our community—sending love and healing. Please take care of yourselves in these trying times (mental health resources below).
 

To the victims

Daoyou Feng,
Hyun Jung Grant,
Suncha Kim,
Paul Andre Michels,
Soon Chung Park,
Xiaojie Tan,
Delaina Ashley Yaun,
Yong Ae Yue

— rest in peace.

 

#StopAAPIHate

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This page contains a collection of written pieces sourced from members of the Yale AAPI female community.

 

Please read, bookmark, come back to it.

For more material, visit our newsletter (link at left) released on Tuesday, April 6th, 3 weeks after the Atlanta massacre.

Reading the news of the Atlanta shootings brings to mind all the racist cat-calls hurled on the street, comments of ex-partners who fetishize Asian women, and the other physical and mental trauma of being an Asian woman in a white man’s world. I am reminded of the violence against my community, but I am also reminded of who must bear the brunt of the violence towards AAPI folks — not well-off, highly educated, East Asian American citizens like myself, but Pacific Islanders, low-wage laborers, sex workers, refugees, elders. I see myself and my loved ones in the women who had their lives brutally taken from them, but I know that I cannot truly see myself in them due to the immense privilege I hold.

 

At the same time I hold these two things in my mind, I see the white silence in my communities. The silence overall. Friends who have not reached out. Friends who have messaged me — not to check in, but to crack a joke or ask for a favor. Classmates who post their vacation photos and stay silent. Classmates who post their vacation photos after reposting a single graphic that says #StopAAPIHate and nothing else. Classmates who post but don’t take the time to educate themselves or redistribute resources. East Asians who think media representation is the only thing needed to achieve AAPI liberation. Asians who never spoke up for BLM but are now vocal. Men who are all too quick to ignore violence against women. Coworkers who mention recent violence just to say “Anyway...” and then switch the topic. White people who study abroad and travel to Asia as culture cultures and fetishizers but can’t actually do anything to combat the violence against these communities that they are complicit in.

 

I am angry at so many people. I am angry at myself for not being more vocal for my community before this — For not being more vocal for the AAPI communities I am not part of, but that I have been complicit in their harm of. I am sad that attention has already begun to dissipate. I am sad that we will return to being invisible.

— SHARON LI (YALE '19 + 1) —

[Last Tuesday] in Atlanta, Asian woman massage parlor workers were killed by a white supremacist. I'm thinking about the audacity of the men who say that Asian women "have it better" simply because we're fetishized by the white patriarchal gaze.

Asian women are more than two times more likely than men to report abuse. Being fetishized, exoticized, and objectified is not empowering: it enables the domestic abuse, exploitation, trafficking, and degradation of Asian women and our bodies. Fetishization itself is an act of patriarchal violence. 

I'm thinking about and grieving for the Asian massage parlor workers, sex workers, activists, and all other women who face both racism and misogyny. I want cis Asian men to stand in solidarity with us and know that fighting anti-Asian violence is intersectional and inherently feminist.

I've had so many men deny the misogyny that Asian women face simply because they believe being desired by the white gaze is a form of privilege—when really it's the result of centuries of imperialism, conquest, and violence that leads men to feel entitled to our bodies and lives.

— EILEEN HUANG (YALE '22 + 1) —

(asian) girls

Somehow we always find each other.

 

There are two of us, or three of us, or four of us, sitting at a cafe, or dancing in a tight circle, or crying in a dark room.

 

We share the names our parents call us, and they rise from our throats like secret sounds. We tell each other we are beautiful, and we believe each other.

 

We find our mothers' eyes in each others' faces. Our sister's lush lips, our cousin's chubby cheeks, our auntie's arched brows.

 

We're tiny, fat, brilliant, careless, shy, loud, lovely. We find home in each others' bodies, and we feel safe.

 

Sometimes, men see us together and get excited. They think that we're lonely. They think that we can't have found wholeness in each other's company. We pull each other closer, shield each others' bodies, give each other long looks.

 

We do not need to explain anything to each other. We already know. Our bodies are our own, but often they are the same.

 

Sometimes, we are embarrassed to be seen together. We think it is bad to cling to each other. We think it is shameful, insular, timid, uncool.

 

We run away into crowds where no one looks like us and think, "I am different. I am not like the others."

 

Who taught us that we were ever the same?

 

When things get hard, we hate being inconvenient. We refuse to be a burden.

 

When people ask, we say, "I haven't struggled enough to say anything." I'll say something when something truly bad happens. I'll same something when I've truly struggled. I'll say something when I've been hit, or stalked, or raped, or killed.

 

I'll have a right to say I have struggled then.

 

But when we are together, we can be inconvenient. We can unravel. We can complain.

 

We cry together, over silly things and hard things. We don't worry if we have a right to cry. We laugh together, and we don't worry if it's okay to laugh.

 

When we are together we are not Asian Girls. We are girls. We are ourselves. We hold each other, and it is uncomplicated.

— MADELEINE LEE (YALE ’19) —

I'm struggling to pinpoint exactly how I've been feeling, but I've been sitting at my desk for the past couple of hours unable to do any work so I felt like I needed to at least try to get this off my chest.

I am frustrated by the fact that I've had to see countless photographs of and statements from the gunman yet have barely gotten the chance to learn the stories, let alone names, of the victims. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that there has been every effort made by police to humanize the shooter and refuse to call this out for what it was: a racially motivated hate crime. I'm also scared—for myself, my family, and my loved ones, and of what might happen to us should we have the misfortune of crossing paths with another white man having a bad day.

I think that most of all, I am tired. I'm tired of watching my peers, who poke fun at tourists inn between mouthfuls of junzi and point blame at the Chinese virus with the same fingers that have been painted by Asian aunties, watch all this unfold in deafening silence and wake up the next morning to repost pictures of Handsome Dan with more enthusiasm than they have ever afforded Black or Asian lives. It's exhausting to feel like I am shouting into a void of people who have never cared and never will care. They will rediscover our foods, wear qipaos and kimonos for the culture, and share fox-eye makeup tutorials without a second thought but turn a blind eye to the beliefs that leave us fetishized and beaten and dead.

It's exhausting to constantly be reminded that the place I have called home for the last fifteen years will never fully see me as one of its own, no matter how much Korean I've made myself forget or how many white girls I've befriended or however else I've desperately tried to convince myself and the people around me that I belong. To anyone who's ever had the audacity to tell myself or any other AAPI woman that we are "lucky" to be every white man's fantasy, or that we are "your favorite Asian" like it's the biggest compliment in the world, I encourage you to reflect on how these microaggressions can culminate inn something as terrible as what happened in Atlanta, and how it maybe isn't so surprising after all.

That being said, this is not to shame anyone who has yet to post an infographic on their Instagram stories—I'm well aware that all social media activism in and of itself is inherently performative. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing more harm than good by participating, or what it really means that our generation cannot seem to give a shit about anything until it's all neatly laid out inn pastel sans serif inside a 1080 by 1080 pixel Instagram post. But silence isn't an option at this point, and I hope that we all can take a second to show support and solidarity in our own ways. ... I'm sending love and strength to all my fellow AAPI women. We are nothing if not resilient.

— LAUREN SONG (YALE '22.5) —

 
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