ABC: An American just like you


Credit: Elizabeth Zhong

In the latest installment of ABC: American Born Chinese, reporter Jonathan Zhang addresses the rise in attacks on Asians and the importance of continuing to talk about the unjust treatment towards Asians.

It’s no secret that life is hard. There are so many things to accomplish, hardships to endure and obstacles to overcome. With the addition of a global pandemic, every one of these challenges becomes that much harder.

But I guess some people are caught up in their struggles and think the world revolves around them to the point where they feel justified bringing harm to others. I never thought that it would be necessary for me to explain such a basic concept that we’re all taught in elementary school, but the recent attacks and hate crimes prove otherwise.

You’d think that people would realize how wrong it is to judge someone based on their outward appearance. You’d think that people would realize that stereotypes don’t apply to everyone and are often untrue. You’d think that people wouldn’t stoop to levels so low as to perform hate crimes.

You can’t judge someone based on their outward appearance. Why? Everyone has their own story, and everyone is dealing with a struggle of their own. For many Asian-Americans, it’s an unsaid rule not to speak about your struggles and only talk about your successes. I think it comes from the idea that hard work brings success, and if you’re not successful, then it’s because you’re not working hard enough. Simply put, many Asian-Americans don’t like to talk about their struggles in fear of others shaming them for not working hard enough.

Let me tell you something that many non-Asians probably don’t know: many of our parents grew up during times of poverty in their home countries. Countries where struggle was normal. It was during these times that our parents learned to grit their teeth, keep their heads down and work. There wasn’t any point in complaining because everyone else was going through the same kind of struggle. When they immigrated to the U.S., they continued to follow this ideology, always putting up a front of success, even if behind that front was stress and anxiety.

It’s time that people understood that Asian-Americans are Americans as well. There are those of us that are struggling financially, academically and domestically. Many of our parents who are considered by the model minority myth to be successful and financially well-off are struggling too. And there’s even more of us whose parents immigrated from China who aren’t doing well financially and are just getting by. Everyone copes with hardships differently. It just so happens that many of us Asians put on a mask of success to disguise our unpleasant feelings.

It’s been more than half a year since the Atlanta shootings, and a lot of the discussion around Asian hate seems to have died down, but the problem is still there.

My heart goes out to those killed in the Atlanta shootings and those suffering from Asian hate crimes. The majority of those killed during the shootings were Asian women, some of them mothers. Asian moms have a stigma surrounding them, the most famous being the premise of Tiger Moms. This stereotype that Asian moms are strict and force their children to study is a popular notion that many believe. But to those that believe in these stereotypes, let me ask you something. Does every mother not want the best for their child? Will every mother not sacrifice their time and energy for their children’s success?

Asian moms are just like any other mother. They love their children and will do anything and everything for them. And, through their efforts to help their children in any way possible, they often forget to focus on their own lives.

One such mother that was killed was Hyun Jung Kim, a spa worker with two sons. Randy Park is one of those sons.

To Randy Park, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your mother was killed. I’m sorry that she wasn’t able to live out her life despite working tirelessly to support your family. I’m sorry that you and your brother no longer have a mother. I’m sorry. And to the family and loved ones of all those that were killed and are still suffering because of Asian hate crimes, I’m sorry.

I hope that people realize that it’s time for a change. There comes a time when it becomes your job as an observer to stand up when you see something wrong happening. That time is now. Be the force for positive change.