• Sally Maeng

Please join us in being passionate about #StopAsianHate

Updated: Mar 22

My Story

On March 16th, 2021, a white gunman killed eight individuals. Seven of the victims were women, and six of them were Asian American women. The killer admitted to the crime, saying he had a sex addiction and was trying to subdue his temptations. The FBI Director has yet to acknowledge this as a hate crime against Asians.


The Passion Collective is run by two Asian Canadian women, Lauren and myself. So this story undoubtedly shook us. We decided it was important to talk about this story, share what it means to us, and advocate for #StopAsianHate.


First, I'm going to talk about the racial hate against the Asian community. Then I'll share my experience as an Asian Canadian woman and why I'm livid the authorities are hesitant to call it a hate crime.

Thank you to those who have already shown support. If you are currently disputing or indifferent to this issue, I hope you'll reconsider by the end of this blog. Please join us in being passionate about #StopAsianHate.


Asian hate and racial microaggressions during the pandemic

Vancouver police data revealed that in 2020, Asian hate crimes rose 717% from 2019. I'm not surprised to hear that. Many people wrongly believed those in the Asian community were more likely to have and spread COVID-19. I worried people would mistreat my parents. Not only do they have visible Asian features, but they also have noticeable Asian accents.


I hoped my parent's coworkers wouldn't feel wary about being around my parents. (They worked on-site). I feared strangers would hurl insults at my parents and engage in other rude behaviours. But never did I imagine a 717% increase in reported crime. (How much more was unreported?)


When the June 4th BC COVID-19's press briefing came out, I laughed at the data. Everyone thought the Asian community was responsible for bringing the virus to the province. In reality, most of BC's COVID-19 cases originated from Eastern Canada and the U.S. Yet, the government and major news outlets did not highlight this fact nor appropriately announce a stop to racism against the Asian community.

Vancouver has a large Asian population, and we need to take Asian hate seriously. In the 2016 census, 32% of respondents identified their ethnicity as East and Southeastern Asians. This may seem like a large percentage. However, I would still consider us "visible minorities." We are treated more poorly than white citizens due to our physical ethnic characteristics and last names. In other words, prejudice towards Asians exists, and this matters because it affects a significant number of Vancouverites.


The Asian community is unique from other BIPOC groups. We often experience more privilege than other BIPOC individuals. Meanwhile, we tend to be less vocal and stay focused on assimilation and following the system. Still, no matter how hard we try to be like good white citizens, we are antagonized for not being white enough.


In Atlanta, we saw an extreme rendition of Asian hate. But respecting Asian Canadians and Americans start with avoiding questions like

  • What's your background?

  • Where are you from?

  • What's your ethnicity?

I have random strangers ask me at work, parties, coffee shops, grocery lines, bank appointments, and more. Would you ask me if I was a random white person?


Even if you mean no ill intent, it makes us feel like exotic immigrants who don't belong in a place we call home. Additionally, it's none of your business what "kind" of Asian we are. We're not an amusing guessing game for you to play. We'll organically tell you if we want to share that information with you.


Additionally, feeling frustrated that a customer service worker can't speak fluent English differs from assuming you'll receive poor service because they are Asian (or any POC for that matter). Many Asian Canadians are born and raised in Canada, and English is their first or dominant language.

Asian Canadians are Canadians.


Preventing horrors like the Atlanta mass shooting starts with recognizing how society sees, treats, and neglects the Asian community.


None of us are perfect, and even Asian Canadians act racist against others in the Asian community. But let's all work together to spread awareness. Please help us avoid another violent crime. Please join us in being passionate about #StopAsianHate.


Asian Women and Sexualization

I am not an expert in this subject matter. So I'm just going to speak about my personal experience.


I like dating white men, but I always have to double-check they don't have an Asian fetish or some cultural idealism. Thankfully, a lot of guys don't! But I still have to double-check, and I will double-check for my two younger sisters and female cousins.


I first witnessed the sexualization of Asian women in movies and books around middle and high school. I can't give you many details because I still avoid them and try to erase them from my memories; they make me feel uncomfortable and othered. But it involves exhibiting Asian women as prized sex objects for their "exoticness."


I learned men in the real world also carry these sentiments in university. In a social psychology course, we analyzed dating ads written by men. (This was before Tinder went big.) Many specifically sought Asian women. They talked about how much they love Asian food, using chopsticks, and learning the language. They were eager to provide diligent care for Asian women. This was all prefaced in a sexual and commoditized manner that made me feel, again, incredibly uncomfortable and othered.


Then there are catcalls. Comments often include exotic, lotus flower, yellow fever, chopsticks, geisha, and random syllables made to sound like they're speaking in an Asian language. (This is in addition to the usual inappropriate comments men holler at women).


I also went on dates with white guys who thought dating an Asian Canadian woman meant they'll have so much fun experiencing Asian culture and eating Asian food with chopsticks. They threw comments about how they find Asian women so beautiful. This one guy carried an air of arrogance; I should be delighted to have a white man be so attracted to Asian women. Again, I don't know how to put this into words. But it made me feel uncomfortable, othered, and angry.


To be clear, this is different than thinking Asians are attractive because damn straight, we are. Obviously, you're allowed to be attracted to Asian and Asian-influenced commodities. You're also allowed to be attracted to Asians more than those of other ethnicities.


The problem lies when non-Asian individuals have idealized cultural expectations around dating Asian women. The problem is even more significant when those expectations involve hypersexualized fantasies.


Going back to the Atlanta shooting, a white male killer admitted to his crime and said it was due to his sexual addiction.


I hope my story helps you understand the reactions of Asian American and Canadian women:

  1. We find this mass shooting incredibly disturbing.

  2. We are angry that the FBI Director didn't classify this as a hate crime against Asian women.

  3. We feel anxious when other people don't see this as a hate crime against Asians and Asian women.


The killer said he wasn't racially motivated; they all say that. They all deny they're racists because they love Asian women.


Other than my lived experience, I don't have the education to lead this conversation further, so I'll end here. Nonetheless, I hope it gave you an insight into the unique fears of an Asian Canadian woman. Please join us in being passionate about #StopAsianHate.


Conclusion

Of course, I have so much more to say about this mass shooting, but I'll wrap it up for now. Thanks for sticking around and hearing our stories.


Like other BIPOC groups, the Asian community is an invaluable contribution to society. Please don't simply like us for our food, K-pop, anime, workforce, and more. People target us for being Asian while forgetting we're Canadians, and your voice would mean a lot to us.


Furthermore, please help us empower Asian Canadian women. You can start by acknowledging and communicating that sexualizing Asian women for their "Asianness" is a form of racism. This is not how you appreciate Asian culture.


Celebrating Asian culture and Asian Canadians involves reveling in our diversity and input to society while treating us with equality and dignity as Canadians.


International influences weave throughout Greater Vancouver. We intertwined various ethnic customs -- European, Indigenous, Asian, and more -- and we created our own unique fusion. Let's continue to work together in weeding out hate crimes and enriching our culture.


Please join us in being passionate about #StopAsianHate.

If you want to continue this conversation with us, follow @sallyymaeng and @laurenmkan and on Instagram.

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