Crossing the road today, on a street which is not the safest one in town to walk down, I became aware of a small elderly Asian lady to my right, nervously glancing up and down the street. There were a lot of sirens and noise, and she seemed scared to cross. I stopped and asked her how she was.
She was scared.
She told me she was scared because of all the Anti Asian hatred. She told me she was rightly scared because older Asian ladies are targets for male violence, targets for men to let out their frustrations at the virus out on real people who had nothing to do with it at all.
She told me she was too scared to go for a walk in case she was the next victim of violence against Asian people. That is not a fear that is unfounded, recent attacks have shown us all the danger level in this city.
I walked her up the street to where she needed to go – me one side, my son the other. As we got to the top of the street, she asked me if I might consider taking her out for a walk once in a while. She immediately apologized for asking, and said no to her own question before we could say yes. I wrote my number down on a piece of paper, and told her we would be happy to walk with her now and then, so she could feel safe to leave her house.
Tell me in what kind of world, in what kind of civilized society, elderly Asian women need to apologize to a stranger middle aged woman and her tall for his age son, for asking them if they might help her get out of the house safely in a world in which violence that is racially motivated, is a fact of life? Tell me if you want to live in a world in which grown young men beat random old women to death because of the color of their skin and their racial heritage.
I will tell you, I don’t want this to be the world we live in.
I swear the Boy grew about 4 inches when he took that elderly woman’s arm, and escorted her down the street.
We have to do better. We have to not accept this as the reality we now live in. The virus is not people, there is no one to hit and punish. As vulnerable as we are, we are not as vulnerable as that elderly lady, who is as vital a part of her community as anyone else. She deserves to live peacefully and walk freely. Just as me and the Boy need to walk freely without him being attacked for his obvious Asian heritage.
San Francisco needs to do better, to say it louder, and to support it’s large Asian community that has been there since the inception of this city. It is just not doing enough. After it took so long to fire the individual that was so racist towards Asian parents, students and teachers, after the beatings, after the attacks and the assertations by the SF public defender that the attack on 75 year old Xiao Zhen Xie was not racially motivated, the Asian community is feeling attacked and unloved. No more excuses, no more changing narratives to avoid facing the problems, no more. This city I love so dearly needs to stop fence sitting and say no to this dangerous tide of violence and hatred.