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Asian American Hate, pt. 2: Time and Time Again

Asian American Hate, pt. 2: Time and Time Again By: Chandarith Moeun

Chandarith Moeun, a Cambodian American who grew up in Mexico, Maine and helped found the Mountain Valley High School Civil Rights Team, is an illustrator and voice actor. We've divided his narrative into five sections and we'll be sharing them daily for the next five days. We hope you'll join us as we listen to Chandarith speak his truth. And follow him on Twitter @chadouken and IG @chad0uken! Throughout this series, Chandarith has embedded links within the narrative to provide readers with more information. Please use them! Please note this piece contains triggering content, including racial violence and language. Scroll down to read pt. 1.

Illustration by Chandarith Moeun

Over the years, I grappled with what my mother had talked about. Was she right? Was she being complacent and enabling the very harm that was being perpetrated against us? Or was she simply just worried that her son would get hurt? The thoughts would come and go, but it didn't do much to stop how I was feeling. Anger was something I struggled with far past my teens and into my adulthood. Anger at the injustice, the hate, and the violence against people of color. It felt like something that burned inside me as I tried to live my life, reigniting itself every time I heard the news. Which brings me to today. Hate crimes against Asian Americans are on the rise. It was something that I had noticed slowly rising the past few years, but it really ramped up within the last year. Tensions and fears about Covid-19 were stoked by the xenophobic rhetoric of rightwing politicians. People with already existing prejudices against Asian people used the virus as a justification to attack the elderly or lash out against anyone they perceived to be 'Asian.' As 2020 rolled on by, I heard numerous stories of attacks. I feared for my friends and loved ones, while also taking precautions for my own safety. I sat there with a mix of apprehension and frustration. I mean, life is already difficult enough as it is with the pandemic, but now we have to add the fear of getting assaulted? Headline after headline, video after video. I kept seeing the attacks happen. Day after day. Again. And again. And again. And- oh my God, it's never-ending. Even when it's not an actual physical assault, people are still finding ways to express their bigotry.

It's hard not to feel overwhelmed by all the attacks. The pain of it all has been a heavy weight. Asian folks from all walks of life are sad, angry, and scared. It's completely reasonable to be all these things. According to StopAAPIHate, there were over 3700 reported incidents of racism and discrimination since last March. That’s only the reported incidents. There’s probably more, and still to come. Police are saying that they’re not finding evidence of racial discrimation because...y’know, the attackers say so. I’m sorry, but I don’t think racists get to determine what is and isn’t racist. The attacks have spurred conversations amongst Asian communities about how to respond to the violence- whether it's calling for a stronger police presence or the need for carrying guns. There's rewards for information about attackers. People are angry, and many are desperate for a show of force, in the hopes that their would-be attackers would think twice. I can't fault them for thinking this way. I don't agree with it, but I understand the line of thinking. How are we going to protect ourselves? Are guns ever a good idea to combat violence, or do they lead to even more violence? If the police are already infamous for brutality and over-policing communities of color, would this just invite MORE discord? What's the solution here? to be continued...

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