In the past week, I've shared on my Facebook Page and on my Instagram how I'm feeling about the recent violence and deaths that occurred in Georgia where 8 people died. The youngest was 33. The oldest, Soon Chung Park, was 74.
The names of the others who died were Xiaojie Tan, 49 (her 50th birthday was just two days later), Delaina Yuan (33, a newlywed who was there getting a massage), Paul Andre Michels who worked there as a handyman, Daoyou Feng, Hyun Grant, Suncha Kim and Yong Yue.
The recent violence isn't new, of course. Lynchings were common during the Gold Rush era and in the 1850s, a Caucasian person would not be punished for murdering black, Asian or anyone that wasn't Caucasian. As you may know, during World War II, the hate, fear and racism were so heightened, that Japanese Americans were put into Internment Camps, with land and businesses taken away from them.
Recently, during the pandemic, the anti-Asian rhetoric, hate speech and yes, violence has escalated 1900%! A sobering statistic that propelled the actor Daniel Dae Kim to speak up, powerfully, in front of Congress last week.
I encourage you to watch the entire video, as he so eloquently presents the struggles, the pain (oh it hit me so hard when he said we are "statistically insignificant"), as well as what can be done (the entire video is a little over 5 minutes, so it's worth your time). Since this is first and foremost a blog about increasing your financial wellness, I'm going to highlight what he says about the financial struggles of the AAPI community.
Many of us are struggling too. In fact, the wealth disparity between the wealthiest Asian Americans and the poorest is the largest of any ethnic group in America. In New York, Asian Americans have a higher poverty rate than any other minority group, where 1 in 4 are living below the poverty line. And poverty rates among Asian American seniors are much higher than the national average. That's something to consider as we watch the most vulnerable of us get pushed, slashed and murdered.
He goes on to talk about the "model minority" stereotype that not only hurts Asian Americans but is also a way to create division among all minority groups.
I also want to point out something Daniel Dae Kim didn't address in this video but I have seen him address this elsewhere, and that is the notion that the killing spree of the man arrested for these crimes may or may not be racially motivated.
If he is convicted, there is no doubt in my mind that his crimes were racially motivated.
He talked about a sex addiction. First of all, the women who died were in their 50's, 60's, and 70's. Does he have an addiction to sex with older women and why were the targets Asian women?
Something that has always affected me, as an Asian woman, is the fetishizing of an entire race.
This is racism, as well as sexism.
I have always been completely turned off by non-Asian men who only dated Asian women because it says, to me, they do not see me as who I am but what I represented to them, through movies or porn they watched.
That to them, I would be a submissive, docile, masseuse, only to serve a man is one of the most racist and harmful stereotypes of an Asian woman. And of course, that is NOT me. I am outspoken and have strong opinions, especially about Asian women being seen as sex objects, sex trafficking and men who go to prostitutes.
In one of my first blog posts, I write about a woman I knew who was "sold" to a brothel. She was a distant cousin that I met when I was a teenager. She is one of 3 women I know who was in her situation and stayed in it because of the lack of money, and she is someone who motivated me, posthumously, to become a financial coach. Her experience has also shaped my beliefs about the men who are responsible for sex trafficking.
After the death of this distant cousin, I researched prostitution, sex trafficking and brothels, including a well-regarded book by Harvard researcher, Alexa Albert, who, non-judgmentally, takes a look at the lives of the women who work at the Mustang Ranch in Nevada.
For most of the women Alexa researched, it wasn't their choice to first go there, and of course, they were all motivated by money.
She doesn't delve into the men as much, however, speaking to the women who worked there, some of their clients were there to live out fantasies that their real life partners may not be willing to do or "heal" some sexual traumas.
So, for these men, they did not see these women for whom they really were but as objects to place their fantasy and desires upon.
When violence is combined with sex and it's targeting a specific race, it is both a sexually AND a racially motivated crime.
So, what can you do, in this moment, to support Asian and Pacific Islanders? First, education and more ways to get educated. Understand the history of Asian and Pacific Islanders in this country that our history books did not teach us. Sure, we were taught about how the Chinese were brought here to work on the railroad, but were we taught that thousands died while doing so? There are, of course, so much more.
Next, when you see something, say something. Racist jokes are NOT funny. Although it may be uncomfortable, please speak up, especially because as Asians, we were brought up to not speak up, especially around authority. So, in moments of a racist attack, our instinct would be to "just take it" and then at home, we may cry out in pain. You can be a true ally, if you choose to speak up and even simply say, "that joke you made (that was racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic) was not funny."
Finally, just as I mentioned last year, racial justice is also economic justice. So, you can donate to causes that are working for Asian American justice. Here are a few places where I'm donating money:
- Asian Americans Advancing Justice's Atlanta Chapter to help the victims and their families impacted by the violent acts that took place on Tuesday, March 16, 2021.
- Support the national Asian Americans Advancing Justice
- Support the AAPI #StoptheHate Fund
- Hate Is A Virus is a nonprofit community of mobilizers and amplifiers that exists to dismantle racism and hate.
Also, we can all do better to research and find the best person to work with, as a coach, or in any other business. Many of the top 1% of well-known coaches and so-called thought leaders are Caucasian (Tony Robbins, Amy Porterfield, Marie Forleo, Gabby Bernstein and in finance, Dave Ramsey, comes to mind). By the way, I have taken a few of these people's courses, too, so I'm definitely not saying don't work with them because they may be the best coach or teacher for you. However, how do you really know they are absolutely the best for working with you, without getting out of your bubble and researching other people of color?
Finally, what about in the entertainment industry?
If you're a casting director, writer, producer, do you consider that a person of color could play the role that may have started out as a Caucasian person's role? For example, the genius of Bridgerton was that Shonda Rhimes and team cast non-white faces in a romantic, period drama that we were all so used to seeing as British and white.
Also, if you're hiring staff to write, produce, or direct, do you also reach out to see if you're really looking beyond your immediate network? I worked with a director on a TV show one time whom I gave a list of female DP's, camera operators, ACs, audio mixers, and he told me that they were ALL booked and only hired men.
Later, I found out that he didn't even reach out to any of them.
We all have to do a better job of diversifying who is in front and behind the cameras, so that the stereotypical images we see on screen don't continue to be what defines how we are all represented because sometimes, what we see on screen, may be our only way of understanding someone who doesn't look like us.
I would love to know what you think, so please subscribe, email or comment below. I would love to know that I am not alone. Also, for those of you have called, emailed, texted or messaged me on social media, I see it. I'm absorbing it. I'll reach out soon.
With so much Gratitude & Love,