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"I don't know how Asian I appear" - Thoughts from a 10th grader

Note: This week's post is an interview with my daughter about her impressions of the shooting in Atlanta from her perspective as a biracial (Chinese/White) 10th grader. It is lightly edited for clarity and to simplify teenage slang and tik-tok references.

Hi Abby, thank you for being interviewed.

You’re welcome, mum.

How did you hear about the shooting in Atlanta

Tik Tok – then I looked it up to make sure it wasn’t false information.

What did you think?

Honestly, I guess I was like – another mass shooting. That sounds really bad, but I feel like it happens all the time. I felt really sad for the people who died, and I wasn’t surprised that it was a white man who did the shooting.

And then, I found out about the racial motivation. They were mostly Asian women, and he had a sex addiction or something. And when the sheriff said that he just had a really bad day? He’s excusing the behavior! When I have a bad day, I watch puppet history videos and drink cranberry juice. I think it’s because Asian women are fetishized. A lot. I think that’s why it happened.

How do you identify?

As mixed-race – half-Irish and half-Chinese. Some people ask me which side I identify with more, but I don’t have just one. I identify with both – if that makes sense.

I guess the shooting was kinda scary for me because I don’t know how Asian I appear. I haven’t worried about it before, but now… Since we live in Massachusetts, it’s not so much of a problem. I think we’re less likely to have a mass shooting because we’re more left-leaning and that includes gun laws. And maybe people are more tolerant – but it could just be wishful thinking.

But I still worry. I don’t know what people see when they see me.

You said that you’re not sure if people see you as Asian or White. What would you guess?

Probably, it depends on what race the person is. Like J (white classmate). She didn’t know what I was because she hasn’t had very much experience with people who aren’t completely white.

Have you experienced microaggressions? It’s hard for me to identify. Sometimes, I don’t know if people are just being mean or if they are being racially mean. I have this other friend who’s mixed-race and somebody told him “You’re only half-Asian and half-white. You’re not even a full person.”

What did he say?

“Shut up or whatever”. They’re friends but it seemed racist. I was offended! I was like “Hey – I’m mixed-race and I do identify as a full person.”

We went to the vigil in support of Asian American and Pacific Islanders on Saturday. What does that mean to you?

I was showing my support and showing that I’m with the survivors. It was nice to see that people cared, but most of the people there, I noticed, were Asian. There were some white people… but, it’s this group of people who obviously care because they’re in danger. And then white people – who care less. I think racism against Asians is not taken as seriously as it should be, especially now. Our town is mostly white but most of the people at the vigil were Asian – so that’s kinda funky.

Talk to me about the woman in the truck.

She was playing the same line from a song - proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free. But this lady was white. And she had that popular girl look – with the sunglasses and the messy bun. She was just cruising along. She was playing her music really loud.

The first time she drove by, I thought she just didn’t know and that she would turn her music down. Then, I started think about the song she was playing – it’s called God Bless the USA. It was a weird choice.

And then, she came around a second time and I asked why would she do that? I was starting to think it was anti-Asian. She played that same part of the song again and it was even louder. I was disappointed but not surprised.

And then, she came around for a third time and I was like “oh not again”. I knew it was anti-Asian. Then some men at the vigil yelled at her and she didn’t come around again.

What do you think she was trying to say?

That this (shooting/vigil) wasn’t serious. Possibly that she even stood with the shooter. To her, this is America, I think she would say “it’s so much better than other countries”. “We have freedom of speech – and this event was not as bad it as could be”.

I do want to say that mass shootings are about as bad as it can get.

Do you think she would like you personally?

No. What I infer is that she is far right for Massachusetts and for a lot of the country. I’m not and I can’t be friends with racists. I don’t want to be associated with people who dislike others for the color of their skin or for where they come from. It’s just stupid.

Do you think she would dislike you for being biracial?

Yes. Not consciously – but subconsciously. I think she would dislike me.

What do you wish would change?

I wish people in general would care enough to learn about racism in general and especially anti-Asian crimes themselves – using proper and corroborated sources. That would be the bare minimum.

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