Living in Fear | Maxine Mah
Yesterday, after school, I went through my normal routine of flopping down on my bed and scrolling through the social media notifications I might have missed. As I was quickly tapping through Instagram stories, seeing birthday posts, college commitments, and CCA events, I came across a repost of a news story. In San Francisco, two elderly Asian women were stabbed at a bus stop.
With the recent attacks on the AAPI community, it was saddening that I wasn’t shocked about this headline. Upon clicking and reading up on it I became increasingly more angry with the way that racial hate crimes have been so frequent in our society. According to the San Francisco police, the stabbing happened in the middle of the day, with multiple witnesses around. Patricia Lee, a bystander, said that the man, identified as Patrick Thompson, just walked up to the bus stop, stabbed them, and walked away as if he hadn’t just tried to kill two people. Both of the women, who were in their 60s and 80s, sustained injuries, but, thankfully, none were fatal.
This man stabbed both of these women — who were innocently waiting for their bus to arrive — in broad daylight. If Asian people can be standing at bus stops surrounded by many other bystanders and still be targeted for their race, then is there anything we can even do anymore?
Even looking at an article about the stabbing from ABC7, I can see around five other articles about attacks on Asian-Americans. An Asian man, on a walk with his one year old son, gets brutally attacked. An 83 year old Asian woman was knocked unconscious in New York, staying on the ground until a passerby helped her. Clicking on each one, they all are the same type of crime, the same type of hate on Asian-Americans. As more and more people are getting vaccinated, and as us students are going back to going to school, the more and more we are seeing these headlines. It feels as if we are hindered from returning to our normalcy because of the way we look. It can be something so simple, like standing at a bus stop, going to a salon, or getting on a plane. Yet those in the AAPI community still have to be cautious of our surroundings.
I fear for my mother, who goes out to buy groceries, appliances, and walks our dog every morning; who knows what could happen while she’s away from the house. I fear for my grandparents, first generation Korean-American immigrants who live in Florida; not accustomed to the large community of Asians we have in Southern California. I fear for my friends who are moving away next year to places outside of our Carmel Valley bubble; their college experience could be tainted with prejudice and bigotry. I fear for the future generations of Asian-Americans; will their version of “normal” look like one that is worse than ours? Where they fear going outside due to Asian-American bigotry? Or will things change. Will people realize that just because we are Asian, it does not mean we are any different? Will people realize that protecting us is not the same as telling us to lower our heads and pretend nothing is happening? Will people realize that model minorities are minorities too? And that we can see that our stories are being pushed aside?
I can only hope that in the next years of reopening, the AAPI hate will lessen. But I’m no tarot card reader, or crystal ball gazer — I can’t tell the future. What I do know, however, is that the change can only start with the people. Reposting stories, donating to victims, and standing up to discrimination, can only happen if we make it a priority. Click here to donate to one of the stabbing victims