An Open Letter on AAPI Hate

February 15, 2022

By Samuel Lee

Samuel Lee (he/him/his) is a high school junior from Michigan. He is motivated to learn more about the field of medicine and science, and interested in advocating for equality for all and building senses of empowerment and bravery in the next generation. Samuel is passionate about learning about new cultures from across every continent and perspectives from people with different backgrounds.

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(Creative Commons Stop AAPI Hate rally by Victoria Pickering/licensed under CC BY 2.0)

An Open Letter on AAPI Hate – 

Allow me to open this conversation with a story of mine. I was playing games with a few strangers one night, and it’s common to audio call the others in order to work together. It’s often fun, but we were losing that game and by the time we had lost, the other players knew I was Korean because I was typing in Korean in the game. And you know what they said to me? They said, “You look stupid with that ching-chong face, you’re the reason that we lost ‘cause of your race’s tradition of eating dogs.”

Those 21 words may not be exactly what they said to me, but I know it’s close. Now, of course, I couldn’t really say anything. Because if I did, I would be called a “wussy,” “so sensitive,” “a chink,” or that I would be “over-exaggerating.” So, as always, I had to just swallow my words and feelings and go onto the next game with these Asian racists who didn’t have a hint of empathy.

Do you see the problem? That not only Americans but, honestly, most of the world is so accustomed to being racist to Asians that I, and many others, just let it slide almost every time? And when we do call someone out for it, they go, “It’s just a joke.” Let me rephrase their sentence: “It’s just a joke to me.” They don’t know how I feel; no, they don’t have the slightest idea. 

One of my Asian friends (I love her, I think she’s an amazing person) isn’t the best in school. She doesn’t get perfect A’s in each of her classes, but that’s okay; it’s not like her life is over. But one day, she told me that she got her math test back from her teacher and she got a B+. Amazing, it was higher than the class average. But a white kid next to her said, “Aren’t you Asian? Aren’t you supposed to get perfect As? Are you sure you’re Asian?”

I was pretty startled when she said that to me. What? Just read over that statement again for me. What? How does someone willingly say those words to a person and think it’s okay? 

Some people preach about unity and freedom in America and then they support Anti-Asian hate crimes in New York City. See what I’m getting at here?

Shouldn’t we be helping each other out in these troubling and tough times? Shouldn’t we be loving and caring for each other so that we can come out of this pandemic just as amazing and beautiful as we came in?

I would like to end this conversation on a positive note. I think we all know that we are living during a tough time right now. I think we all know that we should be helping, caring, and loving each other in times of crisis. 

Please set aside your prejudices and racial tendencies and think about how we can overcome this pandemic. It’s a very simple solution: be kind. If we mindlessly attack each other, what good is that doing? If we continue to point fingers and constantly blame others, what good is that doing? So please, I ask you, let’s come together as one and survive this year of 2022. Change starts with you, whether you’re ready for it or not.

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