My name is Melanie Tsuchida, I am fourth generation Yonsei, Japanese-American, Chinese-American, cis-woman, and this is my story.
My parents and I were sitting in the kitchen, my mother talking about dying her hair again to make her look younger, my father voicing his appreciation for BIPOC communities speaking up against anti-Asian hate crimes, and I reflecting on white supremacy’s role in everything that is evil.
Seven days later, six Asian women were killed in a racist hate-crime (if you disagree, I encourage you to dig deep into the underlying tones and perceptions that drove the shooter to specifically target Asian establishments) from a man that was, “having a bad day.” Memories of feeling fetishized and sexualized for being Asian, history of banning Chinese women from immigrating to the U.S., portrayals of Asian women in media and films, and past racist, sexual jokes said directly to me came flooding in.
The light that has been shed on anti-Asian hate crimes and racism has brought about various reactions, responses, and opinions, as well as no reactions, no responses, and no opinions.
Six days later, another mass shooting took the lives of Coloradans and I further sank into my feelings.
These acts of violence and past acts of hate, show us the true enemy - white supremacy. The answer is NOT more policing, NOT perpetuating the model minority myth that invalidates the diversity of Asian identities and divides communities of color, NOT continuing to put out statements on your anti-racist and anti-blackness efforts without backing it up with actions. The answer is in dismantling white supremacy (and truly understanding what this means), giving power and voice to those closest to the issues, interrogating inequities, uncovering my own privilege, and digging deeper into the work.
I will continue to learn, unlearn, lift up, step aside, support, and speak out, and I hope you do the same.
~ Melanie Tsuchida, Manager of Strategic Learning at Colorado Nonprofit Association
I’m writing this today as my grandmother’s granddaughter. Her blood and the ancestors before her courses through my veins. A reminder of strength and courage, the Onna-Bugeisha, Japan’s female warriors who fought to defend their homes, families and honour.
Takako Okabe, daughter of a feudal landlord and a long line of warriors, left the mountains of Bepu to come to America with her 11-year old son, a decade after America’s shameful imprisonment of Japanese Americans, to give him the opportunities she did not see for him in the small village she was born to. As my father hurriedly learned English on the boat trip over, he was also tutored in assimilation. “Forget who you are and where you come from and the US will accept you.”
The trauma they experienced courses through my veins, as well. A reminder of what they had to give up to feel safe, stay unseen and unnoticed. And yet, no amount of effort to be the so-called “model minority” takes the weight of white supremacy away, the sting of persistent microaggressions and the terror of in-your-face direct aggression. And if you’re an Asian woman in America, like my grandmother, auntie, and the other 9.5 million others of us, minimization by fetishization is real, since US culture has long presented Asian women as sexualized objects for White male enjoyment.
I went to a vigil for the eight victims of the Atlanta shootings this past weekend to mourn and honor with others. There, I heard over and over again how our elders would not attend because they were afraid and they did not want their friends or family to go either. “Don’t make trouble, don’t get hurt.”
And yet we are still getting hurt. Silence is not saving us. Good behavior is not preventing harm. So, in the spirit of the Onna-Bugeisha, I am making a call to action, if you see something - say something! Use your voice when others can’t! Like all targeted groups, Asian American communities need more than thoughts and prayers. They need action.
~ Amber Coté, Director of Education and Service Enterprise at Colorado Nonprofit Association