COVID-19 stoked more racial hatred during the past two years, particularly against Asian Americans. During this time, an Asian international student was killed in a shooting near the University of Chicago campus. An elderly Asian woman was attacked while walking down the street in the city of San Francisco. Soon after, many Asian Americans began organizing marches around the country to oppose anti-Asian discrimination. I felt resentful and miserable when I observed other Asian Americans in the US being bullied and harmed because of their ethnicity. Then I began to consider more about racism: why does it exist, and how can I resolve it?
Initially, I was unsure about my role in this conflict. I am Asian; however, I’ve studied abroad in the US for only three years. I didn’t know who I would represent or what I should advocate for. I was eager to work on something that allowed me to find the answers. By experiencing more and becoming mature, I gradually realized the answer to why racism exists. Racism develops not only from our diverse races and different backgrounds but also from both political and economic oppression from white supremacy. In other words, racism appears most impactfully in the social and economic structures that oppress some while privileging others. My idea correlates with yli’s racial platform: “There is no ‘neutral’ when it comes to oppression. Dismantling white supremacy requires us to call it out wherever we find it – both at the interpersonal and systemic levels.” Since we are different, we cannot actually feel or know the same as others, except by using our imaginations. This informative or cognitive gap can be used to separate us and assign our different values. As time passes, the informative gap becomes a stereotype. It sounds challenging to eliminate stereotypes and gaps; however, there is something we can do as ordinary people — we can learn to be forgiving, respectful, and in awe of others who have different religions or beliefs than we do.
After realizing that all of us can stop racism regardless of nationality and experiences, I ultimately found my role in the fight against AAPI hate and my belonging to the Asian American community.
As an international student, I embody Asian cultures and increase solidarity among Asian teenagers by educating and sharing. Thus, I initiated the Universal Peace student organization and recruited several passionate team members. We successfully launched our first event, where we discussed how to stop Asian hate as high school students. Also, we hosted a webinar to share and discuss the misrepresentation of Asians in current media, the historical roots of Asian hatred, and how to fight against Asian hate as students. To expand our network, I joined the Dear Asian Youth organization and applied for the DAY Chapter leader at my high school. My team and I organized the first online fundraiser and received donations. We then donated all funds to the Stop AAPI Hate organization to support their hard work. This October, we will organize the first Asian American Cultural Rally at my high school to educate students about Asian racism and share Asian American cultures with everyone.
By exposing other youth to Asian cultures and teaching them to be forgiving, respectful, and in awe of those who are different from them (in terms of religion or race), I was able to find my role and purpose in the fight against Asian prejudice. To make my neighborhood and, eventually, the entire planet, free of racism, I will tirelessly campaign against it and educate others around me.