What do we do when violence and hate come to our everyday places?
By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang
My daughter came home this past weekend! She wanted to get a haircut and she wanted to see Little Brother get dressed up for prom. She filled her weekend with all the classic excursions from her childhood – spinning the cube at the University of Michigan, walking across campus, going to the planetarium at the natural history museum, watching teenagers take prom pictures at the university art museum. She saw childhood and college friends. She went to all her favorite boba shops.
On her last day home, she wanted to go for a walk. As we suggested different parks, all in gorgeous full bloom right now, she suddenly remembered that a teenage boy had been shot last Monday (he is OK) in one of our favorite parks, right across the street from the high school.
A group of high school seniors had been playing water wars, a game like tag but with water balloons, when an unknown car drove up and shot one of the boys in the arm.
Then last Wednesday, three Korean American women were shot and injured at a Korean hair salon in Dallas by a man with a history of mental health issues and delusions about Asians. On Saturday, ten people died and three were hurt after being shot at Tops Friendly Markets in a predominantly Black neighborhood in Buffalo, New York by a white supremacist allegedly because of the false “great replacement” or “white replacement” conspiracy theory. On Sunday, five people were wounded and one died at the Irvine Taiwanese Presbyterian Church (which met at the Geneva Presbyterian Church) in Laguna Woods in Orange County, California. The shooter was an ethnic Chinese man born and raised in Taiwan but allegedly motivated by hate for the Taiwanese community and political tensions between China and Taiwan.
A park. A hair salon. A grocery store. A church. These are our everyday lives, our everyday places.
In the Taiwanese American church, Dr. John Cheng died after charging the gunman, which allowed other parishioners to disarm and tie up the gunman, saving many more lives. Dr. Cheng was not a regular member of this congregation, but happened to go that day to accompany his recently widowed mother. A hero. A good son.
One of the women who was shot in the Dallas Koreatown hair salon said, “It would be nice to live in a world without guns.”
In addition to Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, May is also Mental Health Awareness Month, something we do not always talk about enough. Let’s take care of ourselves and each other.
Asian American groups will be marching for racial justice at the National Mall next month.
“The goal is to galvanize Asian Americans and allies across multiple issues, and educate folks about the issues that our communities face — not only as Asian Americans but as people of color, as LGBTQ folks, as folks with disabilities,” Tiffany Chang, a spokesperson for Unity March, told NBC Asian America. “This movement is not just about us. It is our responsibility as a community that has recently been targeted with violence, to also lift up folks in our community or neighbors who have also historically been targeted with violence.