Stop Asian Hate

Stop Asian Hate

I never thought of myself as Asian, because I lived in Japan most of my life, where I was just like everybody else. Only when I came to Seattle did I notice that I may look like a stereotypical Asian woman: I’m not very tall; I tend to smile when I’m happy; I don’t speak loudly; and my sense of fashion doesn’t trend toward power dressing.

Perhaps that’s why I noticed all the small and large discrimination that Asians, and especially Asian women, can be subjected to. In the past, I’ve tried to be proactive. Ignore comments from strangers that were intended to harass me. Avoid certain parts of town. Never speak up or fight back, no matter how uncomfortable the situation was.

But that strategy doesn’t work any longer. Just a few weeks ago, an Asian woman was attacked in Seattle’s International District, near the grocery store where we often shop. She suffered broken teeth, her partner was also injured, and many Asians were traumatized. The attack didn’t even make the headlines in the local news.

Since Covid started, I’ve felt restricted in what I could do. At first, I was scared wearing a face mask in public, until the recommendations changed. Now I’m afraid to walk alone in most parts of Seattle.

The most recent attacks in Georgia have also made me reflect on what it means to be an Asian woman in the western world. Asian women are often seen as weak and vulnerable, who subjugate themselves to men, and who are unlikely to be skilled professionals. We are certainly not expected to have opinions, and if we have them, we should not voice them. It seems that the misogyny that all women experience increases exponentially when we are Asian. It’s something that took me by surprise. It’s true that there is some misogyny in Japan, too, but it’s nowhere nearly as extreme – simply because half of the population in Japan are Asian women, so we’re seen more as individuals than as stereotypes.

Once people see me as a person, they usually treat me well. Whether it’s cyclists I meet at the Bicycle Quarterly Un-Meeting or people I work with professionally, they see me as an individual and respect me and my work. However, there have been others who could not see beyond the stereotypes, who already decided who I was before they got to know me.

I think it’s important to resist stereotyping, to see people as individuals. Whether it’s projecting fears about Covid or sexualized images, or simply discounting the qualifications of Asians and especially Asian women, it all does great harm and makes it difficult to feel safe. Let’s see and hear each other for who we really are. That will be a good start to understand and value each other. We’ll all benefit from that.

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Comments (21)

  • JaBig

    Thank you for writing this. The more stories like these are shared the more we all realise that we are the same and should be equal therefore treated with dignity and respect.

    March 20, 2021 at 4:33 pm
  • Garth Liebhaber

    Thank you for writing this, I’m sorry you had to. I will examine my own thinking for negative stereotypes. This country has to do better.

    March 20, 2021 at 4:41 pm
  • Jordan

    Thank you for sharing this, Natsuko. The contrast between your life experience in Japan and the US is significant and, unfortunately, not surprising. It must be tiring to anticipate people’s cursory judgements of you, and so hard to feel insecure in the place you live. That is no way way to live, but so many live that way. Know that there is love out there too; I hope it grows.

    March 20, 2021 at 5:39 pm
  • Pete Chesworth

    Strong post Natsuko. IMHO, BQ has been hitting new heights in recent years – from I think around the time that you got involved. Your artistic and editorial expertise, combined with your warm writing and photos have given BQ – and adventure riding – a more accessible edge (NOTE – stlll love Jan’s 600km blizzard rides).

    March 20, 2021 at 6:26 pm
  • Mike

    Please keep smiling.

    March 20, 2021 at 7:18 pm
    • Dennis Ketterling

      The turbocharging of hate in the US in the past four years has made me despair for this country more than I have since the 60’s. It feels like we take a step forward and two steps back. How many centuries before we live up to all [humans] being created equal?
      Thanks, Natsuko, for personalising the fear, and thanks Jan, for more light from BQ/RH.

      March 20, 2021 at 9:55 pm
  • Mike

    Thank you for speaking out on this topic. It’s interesting how few companies and influencers are willing to take a stand on racism and discrimination against Asians. It’s not a popular topic and you won’t gain any customers doing it. That makes it all the more necessary.

    March 20, 2021 at 7:21 pm
  • Joe Ramey

    Thank you for raising my awareness Natsuko.

    March 20, 2021 at 7:48 pm
  • Ashok Natesan

    Thank you for taking the time to write this and I compliment you for your courage in speaking out. Misogyny, stereotyping, racism and all its manifestations are grossly unfair and damaging both to the targeted people and community at large. I hope fervently that with more voices like yours calling these problems out, we will see a collective shift to more respect for the Asian community and really for all people, races and religions

    March 21, 2021 at 12:52 am
  • Hervé POUSSIER

    I met you once in AMBERT (FRANCE).
    Remember your smile…

    March 21, 2021 at 1:01 am
  • Will

    There are certainly haters out there but they are outweighed by good people.

    Let’s keep looking out for one another. Let’s root out people who mean others harm. But let’s not lose sight of the basic decency that truly is the norm in the US.

    The only thing we have to fear is indeed fear itself.

    March 21, 2021 at 8:45 am
  • Dana Shifflett

    This world would be a boring place at best if everyone were just another white male like me. The variety among us, of background, talent, and opinion, is refreshing, even invigorating.
    Keep good company, share your enthusiasms, love your work. The good of this life will find it’s own way to you.

    March 21, 2021 at 8:45 am
  • Consuela Metzger

    Thank you so much Natsuko. This is a very important post. Racism cripples our world, and all of us can and must address it when we find it in ourselves, and in the world around us.

    March 21, 2021 at 9:07 am
  • Nick Lambert

    Thank you for writing this, Natsuko. The rise in Asian American hate in the US has been very upsetting, and I worry about my Japanese friends and family. I’ve always appreciated Rene Herse and Bicycle Quarterly taking a stand against racism.

    March 21, 2021 at 10:52 am
  • Peter Leiss

    Peoples fears of the unknown tend to cause this type of reaction. They want to blame someone. It’s not rational nor acceptable. I am so sorry that you feel this way in a country that has been and continues to built by people from around the world. The previous administration only fostered more hatred and discrimination of many races. For me there is only one race … the human race and hatred has no place in it. Stay strong.

    March 21, 2021 at 11:52 am
  • David Lewis

    Thank you so much for this, Natsuko. I have come to value your voice, as well as your pictures and the perspective you bring to BQ for those of us who enjoy riding but aren’t up to Jan’s level. I am so sorry that you have experienced this, but unfortunately am not shocked. It will take a lot of us speaking up to re-normalize simply treating each other like human beings.

    March 21, 2021 at 2:37 pm
  • Clark Hodder

    I love all of your posts Natsuko, but I am very sorry you had to write this one. I don’t understand what is happening in this country these days.

    March 21, 2021 at 4:34 pm

    I am so sorry – I am not a born USA citizen, but I am a citizen of the World. I come from a country of hate, I assumed it would be different coming to California. The people here, your website, and other similar places, give me hope. I come here to read of your wonderful rides, your insightful product reviews, your culture-spanning travels, and to see the smiles in your photos. We ride on, men and women, on different wheels, dressed differently, we ride.

    March 21, 2021 at 7:13 pm
  • The Coasting Frenchman

    Unfortunately, the situation you describe and the attitudes of people are often not much better wherever you go; being a fifty-five year old Frenchman, i have found myself twice over the last twenty years voting for a President that I didn’t want, just to make sure the other, openly racist candidate would not be elected. That people who encourage hate can get in a position to be elected for that job says a lot about the way voters in my country think. (Oh, and I was a foreigner here for the first six months of my life, before my Spanish parents got naturalized).

    March 22, 2021 at 2:56 am
  • R Delgado

    Grew up in San Antonio as a conservative light skinned hispanic, graduated with a degree in biology, found work in a research lab at the health science center, worked w people of all races and never saw or felt racism. So I just have no understanding of racism and your experiences. So obviously I was lucky. But from stories like yours and others, racism is rampant world wide and is the natural state of humanity. Continue to be brave and not let fear take over your life.

    March 22, 2021 at 7:36 am
  • Domi

    No region of the world is spared by this sad reality. It is an insidious evil which unfortunately will not disappear. Terrible times in the last century could give us hope that this curse would be eradicated. But men’s memory is too short and forgetting is too easy. It is therefore an endless fight that must be engaged relentlessly and sensitize and educate children from an early age. I live in France (sorry for my English) and I know too well the disasters that hatred can cause.

    With all my heart with you Natsuko.

    And thank you for the rebirth of René Herse and what brings us together, the practice of cycling which is for me a “non-violent” action.

    Have a good peaceful journey.

    March 23, 2021 at 9:37 am

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