My Korean mother and I were spat on just last month by a group of teenagers. After it happened I couldn’t stop crying and it saddens me to say that even my own father - who is white - didn’t understand why I was so upset.
“If you grew up in Asia, why is your English so good?"
“You’re half Asian? I bet you’re studying to be a doctor.”
“Your body type isn’t typically Asian.”
These are all comments that I have received, both growing up and in my adult life. I was never able to put into words why they made me feel uneasy but I’ve come to realise that these are indeed examples of micro-aggressions.
Over the past 2-3 years, I have always called people out and tried to educate them on why such comments that generalise a race are unacceptable. To be honest, I naively thought things were getting better and people were becoming more informed on the topic of race. Becoming more “woke”, as you would say. Yet here we are today, with more stories surfacing of people being attacked, abused and murdered because of the colour of their skin.
“Take your virus back to China.”
Since the coronavirus pandemic, this comment has been shouted at my mother and me on the streets of Edinburgh. It’s clear that the current political climate has given people an unjustifiable reason to act on their racist beliefs.
Belly Mujinga was a black woman who was working at London Victoria station when a man used the fact that he had coronavirus to weaponise his act of spitting on her; she, unfortunately, contracted coronavirus and tragically passed away. My Korean mother and I were spat on just last month by a group of teenagers. After it happened I couldn’t stop crying and it saddens me to say that even my own father - who is white - didn’t understand why I was so upset.
I grew up in many countries around Asia attending International school. Whilst living in places such as Malaysia and Indonesia, who were colonised by European countries, colonialism was always taught as a constructive historical event, whilst all the heinous acts that came with it were brushed under the carpet.
I have had to unlearn and re-learn many things. I have had to learn the dark truths to historical events. I’ve had to unlearn the white saviour narratives. I have had to educate myself on the tactics of overt and covert racism so my voice can be credibly heard.
And don’t get me wrong, Asia isn’t innocent either. I am fully aware of the racism that is ingrained in Asian culture. From the generalisation of black people as criminals to the cultural appropriation of black culture.
There needs to be a shift in the mindset of people by having constructive conversation and challenging social norms. I feel it is necessary to break the cycle of complacency by the many people, including myself being half white & half Asian, who benefit from a society governed by white white supremacy.
Even after years of peaceful protests, black people are still unfairly portrayed as anarchists. Enough is enough. Whilst news coverage will die down to make it seem as if the BLM movement has subsided, we won’t and should not stay silent and I know I will continue to be an ambassador for the cause. I’m a firm believer in what Dr Martin Luther King, Jr said: “There is power in numbers and there is power in unity”.