May is Asian American Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) Heritage Month. It is a month that we, Americans, pay tribute to the generations of Asian and Pacific Islanders who have been influential and instrumental to America’s history and success. It’s a month to remind my sons the beauty in them as well as their heritage. And that no matter what someone thinks of their Asian features, they are still very beautiful to me. This year AAPI Heritage Month has a deeper meaning to me and my family. With the recent hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans, I find it disturbing that the racism and hate still exists today, especially when it happened to me over 30 years ago.
I want my children to grow up and be proud of their heritage. Both mine and Charlie’s. But when they have very Asian features, people will identify them as Asian first and may have a certain racial stereotype against them. Last month, we had a talk to Luke about what has been happening and wanted help be prepared if it ever happens to him – especially beware and be aware.
I just want to add that every family may have a different discussion to their children about the recent hate crimes against Asians and Asian Americans. We felt Luke was ready to hear it and most importantly, we wanted him to ask questions. I don’t want him to grow up thinking he’s invisible or that his voice does not matter.
First off, we told Luke that some people may just hate you based on your race. He has a clear understanding that he’s half Vietnamese. And that the hate may not have anything to do with with his personality.
Second, we told him not to be scared or live in fear.
Third, we wanted him to speak up if he was ever experienced racism or witness someone else being a victim of racism. He can tell us, his teachers, other parents. Because being silent about it will only perpetuate that type of behavior and normalize it.
Finally, we emphasized that there are more good than bad people out there. The good people will support you and and stand up for you. Those are the people you make aware of what is going on because they are the ones who will be your allies.
Luke had a lot of questions during our discussion asking why people are racist and why people act on it. They were tough questions to answer but we tried to be as honest with him as possible. Part of me thinks it’s very sad that we had to have the discussion but the other part of me just wants to protect him and prepare him.
Resources for AAPI
If you want to learn more about this issue or find ways to help, here are some resources:
National Park Service – Learn more about the places of AAPI history.
Stop Asian Hate – This organization addresses anti-Asian hate. You can report an incident and they will help by responding.
Compassion in Oakland – A volunteer organization that promotes safety and community in Oakland’s Chinatown.
Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Works to advance the human and civil rights of Asian Americans.