“Dear America” by Emma Tang, aka @intersectional.abc

Passing the mic to activist and college student Emma Tang for a powerful snapshot about the Chinese American experience in the States today.

aapi | asian american | chinese
Image: Emma Tang

Words by Emma Tang

Dear America,
you are sinophobic.
You don’t want us as Chinese Americans,
but you want our labor and products
yet you see us as dirty and cheap.
Your president and media blames China for its factories and its role in
climate change,
yet you buy most of your products from us.
You print our patterns and culture on your clothes and
stick chopsticks in your hair
You jump on an eyeliner trend to make your eyes longer,
but you pull your eyes back and call me a ch*nk.
You ask where I moved from and tell me my English is so good for having lived in New York for only 2 months
Thanks, I say, I was born here
in America.
You say to go back to where I came from
I was born here
in America
You get random Chinese words tattooed on your bodies,
and yet you mock our language with “Ching chong ching chong.”
You say you love Asian women
but really, you love the idea of total submission.
You tell me I only got an A, because I’m Asian
not because I studied
You scream BAT EATER in my face
yet you have literal spray cheese in a can
You butcher my last name,
yet pronounce names like “Arnold Schwarchenegger” with ease
Your president calls us a virus,
and you are silent.
But you cannot silence me.
I am proud of my long slanted eyes
and the way my language sounds.
I am proud of my culture
and of my food.
I am proudly Chinese
and I am proud to stand up for my people
and my heritage.
I ask you to see me.

Every single day, I hear stories of my people being racially harassed,
attacked, and abused. Since March, it has only gotten worse. I hear stories of my younger brother’s ski team members calling him racial slurs. When he speaks out against it, instead of disciplinary action taken against those team members, they exclude him – one of the only people of color on the team – from gatherings.

I’ve been harassed online since before coronavirus about my heritage.
A couple of months ago, things turned physical when I was sitting in front of a Chinese establishment with a couple friends, eating dinner. A white man walked up to us and hit me over the head with a dirty sheet. He paused and glared at me, daring me to respond and walked off. I was the only Asian in a group of BIPOC friends. It was a massive ‘what the fuck just happened’ moment and while I tried to process, my friend informed me that I’d just been hate-crimed. Physically I’m ok. Emotionally, a little traumatized. Could it have been worse? Of course it could have been worse. But the sentiment is there.

Since April, it has been polled that three out of ten Americans blame us for the virus (NBC News). How are you going to blame a whole group of people for a global pandemic? Racism against Asian American’s didn’t suddenly emerge in 2020. America has had a history of suppressing our voices through the internment camps and the Chinese exclusion act. Our activism is hidden, because we’re not traditionally “BIPOC”. In fact, when we applied for naturalization, we had to go to court where they refused, because we were not black or white and naturalization was reserved for black and white people only.

We are too often not included in activism and protest spaces because of this gray area that we exist in and this exclusion erases our struggles. People often point to the wage gap as a way to argue that we aren’t struggling, but though we on average make more than white folks, we have the highest wage gap in our communities and don’t receive support. Start by including us in activism spaces. We are people of color. We deserve your support and anger. We cannot win this fight alone and we urge you to stand with us. If you don’t fight for the issues that don’t affect you – one day, there won’t be anyone left to fight for you. Thank you.

aapi | asian american | chinese

Emma is a youth activist and a first year at New York University. She is the creator of IG @intersectional.abc with over sixty thousand followers where she reaches millions of people per week. Her goal is to educate and motivate the public to take action through social media, by advocating for those who are traditionally marginalized. She is a former intern for a US Senate race and campaign manager for US Congress race as well as a former international level figure skater.


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