“I’m not a racist, but…”

I'm not a racist, but

“I’m not a racist, but I’m afraid you have COVID because you’re Chinese”

“I’m not a racist, but those Chinese people brought COVID”

“I’m not a racist, but your Asian food smells”

“I’m not a racist, but why do Asian women get to date all the white guys, it isn’t fair”

“I’m not a racist, but Asian men are ugly”

“I’m not a racist, but Asian men are so feminine” 

“I’m not a racist, but you’re so exotic”

“I’m not a racist, but I want to wear cheongsam (despite not respecting your culture)”

“I’m not a racist, I love Chinese food (or insert any Asian food)”

“I’m not a racist, but it’s racist that you called me a racist”

i'm not a racist

“Good” people can still be racist

I used to think people who were “good” couldn’t possibly be racist but racism isn’t about being “good” or “bad.” You can still be racist even if you’re not using racial slurs or physically attacking someone. It took me a while to start to feel the effects that daily microaggressions and casual racism had on me.

As a Chinese and Salvadorian person, I knew when someone was being racist and discriminatory against Hispanic people. They’d make immigration jokes or try to lump Hispanic people into being Mexican or joke about eating beans and tacos.

Or people would “joke” and tell me that Salvadorians are “trashy, dirty and poor.” Yes, I literally had a “friend” tell me that. 

I was very aware of the xenophobic sentiment around Hispanic people. 

But I never realized the harm that slight comments and jabs about Asians, specifically Chinese people had on me.

Asian people DO experience racism

Asian people aren’t white. I’m not sure who came up with that shitty narrative, but if you uphold those sorts of beliefs, please educate yourself.

I think because Asian people are often cast aside when it comes to discussions about racism and discrimination, I didn’t realize that it was happening to me. 

I had friends who would call me “exotic” and tell me that it was a compliment.

And people who would tell me that Asian men were ugly and unattractive. I felt as if though I was conditioned to believe these things because it was something I was hearing all the time.

“Eww, your food smells!” *cue laughter*

“Ohh I want to wear cheongsam for Halloween, it’ll look cute on me” *proceeds to shit on Chinese culture*

Comments like these are so unsettling.

Although I did tell the person that it made me uncomfortable and that I thought it was offensive, my opinions didn’t mean anything to them. I was offended for “no reason.”

The breaking point for me was having someone who I considered to be a close friend basically deny my existence as a human being after COVID-19 begun. 

Being a multiracial person I’m always not “Chinese” or “Salvadorian” enough for people. But when it comes to negative associations, then all of a sudden I’m “enough” to uphold them.

I’m Chinese enough to carry COVID, but not Chinese enough when I talk about the racism I experience as an Asian person…

Confusing, right?

“It’s racist that you called me a racist”

*Cue white tears*

When I was accused of having COVID-19 at the start of the pandemic, my initial thought was to question whether they were being racist.

When this person was using hand sanitizer every 5 minutes in front of me, was this racist?

When this person cried because they thought I gave them COVID, was this racist?

When this person kept asking me the next day if I had COVID, was this racist?

But they couldn’t really be racist because I made them cry, right? They’re my best friend, so they can’t be racist, right?

WRONG! All of the above was and IS racist!

I get that tensions were high at the start of the pandemic, especially when America wasn’t reporting cases or testing for the virus back in early February of 2020, but I didn’t expect that Asian people would be blamed for it. 

I mean, I should’ve known better, but when it happens to you, you just don’t know how to feel. 

And when you’re being gaslighted, it’s hard to realize what’s happening.

How can you say you’re afraid of Asian people and believe you contracted COVID from them but it’s okay to go on dates with random white men?

As far as I’m concerned, white men are not immune to COVID. 

It’s okay to throw parties with people during the pandemic, as long as Asian people aren’t invited, right?

But none of this makes you racist because you’re a “good” person.

Get uncomfortable talking about racism

I think it’s time for people to get uncomfortable talking about racism. Especially white people and white-passing people. Your discomfort is nothing compared to me experiencing racism.

I don’t think it’s the job of any non-white person to have to continue to talk about how racism hurts us and the work that needs to be done to dismantle the racist institutions we are a part of.

It’s not on me to have to open a dialogue with anyone who has hurt me. I just want people to know my experiences and not minimize or dehumanize my pain. I don’t have to forgive someone just because they were my friend and it is definitely not my job to educate people.

I hope that if you have access to the internet, you can do the research yourself.

I think white people and white-passing people need to do the heavy work. 

If your friend tells you that someone hurt them, why not speak up for them?

If you hear someone saying something racist to someone, why not step up for that person? Make them know that they’re not alone and that someone has their back.

It’s therapeutic for me to talk about my experiences but I can’t dismantle racism on my own. 

Other people need to speak up and talk about it.

Defend your friends from microaggressions. Don’t laugh at the casual racist “jokes” you hear at work. Don’t laugh because you can’t pronounce someone’s name because it sounds “weird.” Don’t stay silent and allow the perpetrator to feel as if though what they’re saying is right. 

As I’ve said before, your activism should be intersectional.

Being an ally for Asian people doesn’t mean you should be anti-Black or anti-Hispanic. Be there for people you witness being hurt. Donate if you have the resources to do so. Challenge your friends and family members when they say something racist, don’t just sit there in silence.

Be an advocate, not a perpetrator. 

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