What an intense last couple days I’ve had as I’ve been processing the tragedy of last week’s shooting in Atlanta killing eight people, six of whom being women of Asian descent. My heart goes out to the Asian American and Pacific Islander community.
I feel I must take a stand and speak to where I am currently, as a woman and New York State licensed massage therapist of Southeast Asian descent. Mind you, I am no scholar or activist—just a person with lived experience and perspectives, and who is still learning.
I have neatly checked the box “Asian American / Pacific Islander” in every racial questionnaire I’ve ever answered in the US. It occurs to me more so now than ever that it is a mindset of white supremacy—which is to say, a dominant “white” culture to which norms, values, beliefs and standards are the default (which does, in turn, advantage white people and oppresses people of color, Indigenous peoples, Black people, Latinx people, and all else)—it is a mindset or worldview of white supremacy that seeks to divide people into neat subcategories of boxes to check off. To put it bluntly, there may as well be the box “white,” and the box “other.”
This is the predominant reason I no longer stand by the hashtag StopAsianHate, much as I had jumped on the bandwagon previously. It is not enough to look at hate with a racial subcategory directed toward Asians, much as there are important issues to speak on with regard to cultural portrayals or misrepresentation or underrepresentation in the media, cultural appropriation, erasure, and so on.
The bigger picture is to see how we as Americans can honestly look to dismantle the seed of the white supremacy mindset, if not #endwhitesupremacy. We must learn to recognize white supremacy’s hateful, oppressive forces and dispel them, transform them, or at least call them out. We must too look to dismantle -phobic attitudes generally when directed toward any oppressed group.
The word “inclusive” implies monoracism and an inside group to which to be included into—and that is white supremacy. My dear friend Andrew Zhou correctly observed that the #stopasianhate hashtag realistically asks that Asians are at best re-included or re-entrenched into white supremacy, which is not the picture I seek for Asian Americans. The phrase, through its double negative, also has a negating nature, as compared with the life affirming mantra #blacklivesmatter.
How do I want to show up for myself and others inside and outside of the Asian and Asian American community? My start as a woman, a woman of color, and as a business is to lean toward values that are not just as “inclusive” as possible, but are as antiracist and anticapitalist as possible. I will look to support others with this mindset.
That is where I stand for now, and these are the mantras I support.
#spreadasianlove #supportracialjustice #supportculturalequity #speakupfortheoppressed #speakupforasianlives #asiansunmuteyourselves #takeastand
You will see that I have adopted a Mission, Vision and Values statement on my About page to reflect these values thusly.
Shayna Rose Grajo, LMT