friday reflections – march 19

Today I am heavy of heart for my Asian American friends. I’m not sure I have anything terribly articulate to say other than that. I am heavy of heart. We are out of town for a month and, in a new house in a new town, I feel far away and out of touch. I took a long walk this afternoon, wanting to return to myself, so to speak, and pondered the events of the week. The shootings in Atlanta, after having to hear Covid referred to repeatedly as “the China virus” and watching the numbers of anti-Asian violence rise to obscene levels this past year, must be a fill-up on a tank that was already overfull.

I’ve seen via social media that most of my Asian friends, if they feel support at all, feel it mostly from their Black friends. And this seems to me exactly right. I’ve heard white folks say that they don’t know what to say, how to reach out. What if they say the wrong thing, further offend, or — worse — further wound? These are questions I wrestle with as well. I sent a text message this morning to one of my Asian friends that, in hindsight, I’m certain was completely wrong and I hate that. Should I not have sent it? Would silence have been better? I’m honestly not sure. Maybe.

I’m also considering what sort of meaningful action I might be able to take. I don’t know yet but I’d like to put the names of the victims here in this space. There’s a lot of talk about whether or not this constituted a “hate crime” (it did*) and about the perpetrator (a white guy, as always**) but if this was one of my beloveds, I would have my gaze on them, on the loss to their family, their community and it would grieve me considerably to know that there are some who would chalk their death up to someone else’s “bad day.”


*Hate crimes are “crimes motivated by bias on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.” Some states also include gender, age and gender identity. Why didn’t this man choose to shoot white women at, say, a bakery? Because bias is when someone gives “disproportionate weight in favor of or against” an idea or thing, group or person, and the shooter in Atlanta conflated the gender and the race of the people at the spas with his delusional ideas about purity and what constitutes temptation, giving them disproportionate weight.

**Almost all mass shootings are carried out by men.   And if we want to put a finer point on it, white men.  Beyond being white males, there is no singular profile for mass shooters.  But one thing that many of these men have in common is what might be called “male grievance” or “male resentment.”  Whatever we call it, the commonality is men — white or otherwise —  committing horrific violence in the name of real or perceived slights, be they from women, minorities, employers, family, classmates or, most recently in Atlanta, people perceived to be temptations in a so-called sexual addiction.

This is a really thought-provoking piece about white people sending #love texts. I don’t want to further paralyze us in our efforts to show solidarity but there’s so much I’m still learning and this offers some really helpful things to consider when reaching out to friends. Also, here’s a website I’ve been perusing today. If you have other resources / ideas for action and contemplation, please share.

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