Your Asian Friends Are Not Okay

by Virginia Duan
Originally Published: 
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Every day I tell myself that today is a new day.

That today, I will get my shit together. That today, I can finally get to cracking on that ever-growing pile of unwritten articles I have due for my various publications. That today, I will not have a visceral reaction to a headline or a white-owned company profiting off of Asian culture or language but is tellingly silent about the continued anti-Asian violence — and most especially in the wake of the Atlanta shootings.

That maybe today, I will not have to tamp down panic or grief or fury or shut down all my social media — even the group chats — because some unwitting soul just shared another horrific story of anti-Asian racism or misogyny in an effort to keep us informed.

I would respectfully ask to no longer be informed; I am not okay.

I am grateful to my friends for reaching out

So many of my friends — especially my Black women and Asian women friends — have checked in on me in the wake of the Atlanta murders. I am grateful. Truthfully, they have been checking in on me since the first rumblings of anti-Asian racism when COVID-19 first came into the news.

When they and other kind, well-meaning folks ask how they can help or support me, I never know what to say.

I have no idea what to tell them.

I don’t need money. I don’t have products to sell. I have a good support system and several networks of friends in place.

After all, I’m technically okay. To quote a friend, “I am not in any imminent danger.”

Except, sometimes, it feels as if I’m in imminent danger. Sometimes, it feels as if this country wants to put me in imminent danger. Wants to put my mother and my children in imminent danger. Wants to put not just Asians — but POCs, WOCs, and LGBTQIA+ folks in imminent danger.

Sometimes, we really are in imminent danger. We just don’t know until it’s too late.

I want to scream


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I don’t know what to tell my friends because there is nothing they can do to make it better. Because it’s not a quick fix. Because as much as I appreciate check-ins and words of support, they are a bandaid on a gaping wound.

How can I say, in all seriousness, burn everything to the ground? That none of us in the margins will be safe until we smash white supremacy and rip patriarchy from the soul of our country?

Who can do that in an afternoon’s work? Or even a year? If it were possible — would it not have already been done?

And how can I say that without providing resources? I have folks asking where they can learn more about anti-Asian hate, about Asian American history, about Asian and Black allyship — all good things, right? Except I feel obligated to write articles and provide resources because I have platforms that folks don’t have access to — but I’m so tired.

I’m so fucking tired.

I fear that white patriarchy wants to crush more than I have the stomach to rebel against. I am afraid that their hate is stronger than my love because they are willing to do whatever it takes to crush me — but I am not willing to become a monster. (Or so I say. I am unwilling to examine if that is actually true.)

Am I supposed to convince you I’m a person?

You know why it’s hard to tell people how to help? Because not only is it systemic and I don’t have the energy to explain it all — I am done making a case for why I am human.

I, my fellow Asian women and female presenting folks, my nine-year-old girl — my fierce and precious girl — are seen as disposable. We aren’t safe, aren’t wanted, aren’t considered human. We have to be afraid when we should be safe. We are blamed, exoticized, fetishized, and not believed when we have the right to exist.

I am not okay.

I feel as if I’m a shattered windshield, waiting for that one push to cave me in.

I am angry. I am sad. I am afraid. I am human.

I am not sorry.

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