Opinion: Stop the Hate Against Asian Americans Forces Us to Speak Up
Caroline Diaz is the preschool director for Westminster Schools, an independent school in Atlanta. She has a strong passion for leadership and mentorship in the field of early childhood education. Caroline began her career as a lecturer for De La Salle University’s Psychology Department in Manila, Philippines. She also operated two early childhood learning centers while working as a curriculum designer for a non-profit organization that was created to help improve public school education in the Philippines.
When I was a kid, I believed that things would change if I closed my eyes and prayed hard enough. I wish that it was that simple to change one's story. I didn't want to write about the Asian hate going around. I didn't even want to post anything on my social media. It wasn't because I was indifferent to the plight. It was because I was part of the plight that I didn't want to draw more attention to it. However, I have two sons --two young boys who look different in a sea of White. I still strongly believe that protests and marches will not change people who think they're superior because of the color of their skin. If I don't speak up and lend my voice, I will be part of the system that normalizes the hate. The same system where my boys will belong. Migrating to the US, I became painfully aware of discrimination and ignorance towards my race. Working in the field of education perhaps made it worse. Questions like, “Do we live in trees?”, “How did I learn to speak in English?”, to “Do I know what Teriyaki sauce is?” --- questions that danced dangerously between curiosity and a racially charged innuendo. My sons were more acutely aware of how to fit in. They considered their color White and convinced themselves that they did not have almond-shaped eyes but round like their classmates. Asians, and I am speaking in general here, do not usually make a fuss. We accept things and learn how to work around them. We keep our heads down and focus on working hard and succeeding in life. We were born not to fight back. Maybe years of being colonized, at least for me, taught me to be silent and subservient than most. Perhaps, we too, as Asians in our race cluster, practice same-race discrimination that somehow "normalizes" what we experience. Whatever the reason is, this silence and allowing other people to treat us anything less than human needs to stop. My youngest son said it best on our ride to school today, "Mommy, I know it is not in our culture to fight back, but this is wrong. We need to fight back." He is right. We need to use every platform available to us to make everyone aware, at the very least, that it is okay to speak up. It is okay to fight for what is right and true. By writing this article, this is how I will fight for us.