March 22, 2021
“As the Asian American community continues to encourage each other to SPEAK UP, take up SPACE, and become VISIBLE, we also need to remember that these actions take immense courage and are costly. We need to be prepared to defend, protect, and support each other in these brave acts or we run the risk of retraumatizing our own people over again.”
– Jenny Wang
Racism is traumatic. Racial trauma is a reaction to experiences of racism, including violence or humiliation.
Trigger Warning for the following story: Abuse
When I was younger, I was in an unhealthy and emotionally abusive relationship. He struggled with possessive and aggressive tendencies and when I realized that I wanted out, we had a messy breakup.
To be honest, the actual sequence of events is a blur. I remember objects being thrown and broken. I remember slurs thrown around. I don’t even remember his face, or what time of day it was. The one thing I do remember is the anger I perceived in his eyes, and how that made me feel.
I remember, acutely, being scared and afraid for my life. Logically, I knew he would not actually kill me, but it was my stress response. Everything shut down. My body’s biological reaction to the threat in front of me was to rid itself of any unnecessary faculties and focus solely on survival – which meant I literally could not talk, or think.
There was actually a friend present, who had either overheard the shouting or saw what was happening. She had come outside and stood between us and said, “You’re done here, and you need to leave, now.”
Those who have been a victims of trauma may know that in a traumatic situation, your brain’s amygdala overrides your prefrontal cortex, making it impossible to think clearly or tap into rational response, often creating a feeling of powerlessness and helplessless.
My friend could have stayed stayed where she was. I did not even know that I wasn’t alone. She did not have to physically step in for me, but she did, and she spoke for me when no words would not come.
I realize that this is an imperfect analogy, but it’s the only one that comes to mind. In these times of pain and trauma, when an entire community is mourning, grieving, angry and unheard, would you please be the friend that steps in?
Will you be the friend and ally that puts your own comfort and fear aside to use your voice and call out in the deafening silence?
The truth is, these aren’t just isolated incidents of racist people who “didn’t know better.” Racism against the AAPI Community has a long history, and was very much premeditated and systematic, with insidious roots dating back to the 1880s and long before.
Until you understand that, it will be easy to simply do nothing.
Do the work to educate yourselves, and your children.
Diversify your feed.
Follow & support not only AAPI, but people of color.
Do not stay willfully ignorant, I beg you.
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From California, to Paris, to Motherhood. This is my story.