Growing up Asian American, I always knew there were certain habits and traditions that I had that were different. For instance, something common in many Asian households is taking off your shoes when entering your home. This was something that was instilled in me…since probably before I even wore shoes. I took Chinese folk dance classes and practiced two instruments. I also recall (all too vividly) getting ready for Chinese school on Saturday’s to go learn Mandarin. I grew up eating delicious Chinese food from homemade dumplings and spring rolls, to baos and red bean soups. These were just some of the many customs and practices I grew up around that became commonplace for me.
Living in a predominately white suburban neighborhood in New Jersey, I adjusted and learned the American ways of my peers. There were times I found when my American culture and Asian culture would clash. For instance, me wanting to dress up for school whereas dressing in a reserved manner was more acceptable for my parents. I remember being embarrassed at times of the food I would bring to school, knowing that it looked far from the Lunchables that my classmates were having. However as I’ve grown up, I’ve become much more comfortable and proud of my Asian background and culture. I’ve realized that being able to speak Mandarin can be an advantage, and having hot pots and making Chinese food can be healing. My experience being both American, and being Asian have melted together and shaped my outlooks today.
This past year there has been a rise in Asian hate across the United States. An advocacy group called Stop AAPI Hate received 2,800 reports of hate crimes last year. Violent acts of hate have increased due to rhetoric from the former President that Coronavirus is a Chinese Virus. In honor of Asian American Pacific Islander Month, I had listened to a podcast from Code Switch for Pildora’s monthly Anti-Racism Training that made me realize how much I still needed to learn and educate myself about the history of racism against the AAPI community. For instance, I learned about the Stockton Massacre of 1989, a school shooting that targeted young children of AAPI dissent.
It is definitely shocking and frightening to think that even living in such a melting pot like New York City, that there are still cases of violent hate crimes targeting Asians. I think about my parents, who are old, and could easily have been the target. The Atlanta Shooting this year definitely shook the AAPI community and made me realize that unfortunately racism is very much alive in our country.
It has definitely been a hard time for the AAPI community and my condolences go out to all those families and friends impacted by these violent events. We must continue to stand in solidarity with minority groups and stand up for our AAPI community. Support AAPI owned businesses, continue to educate yourself, and support organizations that are doing the work to keep the AAPI community safe.
Helena Yang | Sustainability & Design Manager at Pildora