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Violence Against Asian Americans

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October 29, 2022

By Jada Leng

I had been waiting for what felt like an eternity, eager for this day to come. I was fully vaccinated and feeling upbeat, finally able to see my parents in person again. We wasted no time with smiles and hugs all around, but things got very real very fast.

My mom handed me a gift, it was brand new, in that impossible to open plastic packaging. As I looked down and wondered what to say, my mom broke the silence. “I have one too,” she said holding up her keychain. It was pepper spray.

Then it was my dad’s turn. He pulled out an orange flashlight and demonstrated its features which included a blindingly bright light and a loud siren. He handed it to me and said, “be careful.”

This wasn’t the reunion I had expected, but my parents gave me a very important reality check. The rise in reports of violence against Asians, Asian women in particular, is not about thinking “it could have been me, I’m so lucky it wasn’t.” As a member of the AAPI community, for the times my mom would call me, upset and angry about racist comments or unprovoked mistreatment from strangers and for the horrible experiences I’ve gone through, this is not about being lucky. We are not invisible, we can make a difference because that one day in March 2021, it became about all of us.

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