My experiences with anti-Asian racism in San Francisco and Indiana

  1. This past March, I was standing outside of a boba shop with a Taiwanese American man. About thirty feet away, we heard a (likely mentally unstable and likely homeless) man hollering “FUCKING CHINESE, FUCKING CHINESE” over and over again to no one in particular. We both froze for a second, but neither of us actually thought we were in danger. That is, until the man marched toward us and got right in our faces. “Ching chong ching chong,” he chanted as he gesticulated wildly in our faces. I averted my gaze and looked toward the ground, hoping my silence would make this end faster. After what felt like an eternity (but was realistically probably less than a minute), the man inexplicably left.
  2. A couple of months after that, I was walking near my neighborhood in the afternoon. I was listening to music and lost in thought; suddenly, a man walking in the opposite direction less than ten feet away spat at (not on) me, glared at me, and then resumed walking. This happened so quickly that I could barely register what had happened. However, there was no mistaking the malice in his glare.
  3. In August, I was running in my neighborhood and saw a scruffy-looking man in front of me on the sidewalk. We were heading in the same direction, so his back was turned to me. As I approached him, he turned around and swiftly put his fists up to prevent me from passing him. Years of playing Capture the Flag in gym classes made me instinctively try and go around him. But he quickly blocked my path and the determination and ferocity on his unshaven face showed me that this was not a game. I sprinted away from this man onto the other side of the road, my heart rate accelerating.
Source: Stop AAPI Hate (2021)
  1. Disparate size of Asian American populations: The most obvious reason is that there are way more Asians living in states like California and New York compared to states in the middle of the US. The Pew Research Center reports that of the 22.4M Asian Americans (2019) in the US, 30% live in California.
Source: Pew Research Center (2019)
  • Seemingly disparate narratives about a city can coexist:
  • Example 1: SF has a high Asian population, and there have been a lot of Asian hate crimes here.
  • Example 2: Some parts of the US are rife with racism, but in many other parts, people will treat you like a normal human being (they might just have questions, because they don’t know that many people who aren’t white)
  • We all have some unconscious biases or misconceptions about places or people we’re not familiar with. How can you learn more about these people and places and educate yourself?
  • Putting yourself in new situations can be uncomfortable and potentially scary, but if you always stay within your bubble or comfort level, you could be missing out on seeing more of the world and having valuable learning experiences
  • When people talk about being “well-traveled,” they frequently think of visiting glamorous cities in Europe or backpacking through Southeast Asia. I think it’s equally, if not more, important to visit parts of the US (or the country that you live in) that aren’t as sexy and see how different types of people live.
  • I’m going to be mean if you ask me about what growing up in Indiana was like (I love talking about this! And I try to do it in a friendly way! But I want people to come to these discussions with a curious and open mind.)
  • People should endure racism to build character
  • Homelessness is the main cause of hate crimes against Asian Americans
  • SF is “more racist” than other parts of the States — you can’t make categorical statements like this, because you have to consider confounding factors (e.g., the five points I mentioned)

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