Originally published March 2, 2020
Taiwanese Americans, our responsibility here is two-fold:
(1) You or someone you know may have been the target of bias, discrimination, or racism related to anti-Chinese and anti-Asian American sentiments due to Covid-19. Asian Americans of all ages and generations report fear of being perceived as the source or carrier of the disease. Please report all incidents & know that you are not alone.
(2) You or someone you know may have been complicit in anti-Chinese rhetoric related to Covid-19 with the intention of positively highlighting Taiwanese efforts to combat the virus. As we’ve said before, pro-Taiwan does not mean anti-China; each is more than their political circumstances. We do not encourage asserting Taiwanese identity solely as a means of deflecting anti-Chinese racism. There are hundreds of reasons to take pride in being of Taiwanese heritage; disassociating ourselves from a community that has been violently and unfairly targeted is not one of them.
Dire circumstances can also produce extravagant acts of generosity and kindness; we’ve seen efforts to direct Taiwan’s commendable PPE (personal protective equipment) production towards hospitals in the US. We’ve seen Taiwanese restaurants donate bentos to frontline healthcare workers. We hope to see more instances of Taiwanese American solidarity with the Chinese American community, of ways we can leverage the things we share instead of drawing apart. Think of the meaningful ways we might be different – in immigration histories, in average socioeconomic status, in access to resources – and how these can inspire us to do more for each other, to have more compassion and understanding. Start with your friends and family. We’re in this together, for the long run.
2021 update, in light of increased violence against Asian Americans, particularly elders:
In an interview with Jay Caspian Kang for the New York Times, Steven Yeun muses, “Sometimes I wonder if the Asian-American experience is what it’s like when you’re thinking about everyone else, but nobody else is thinking about you.”
We felt that so deeply. But every day is an opportunity to put community and collective care at the forefront of our work, to serve and hold each other even when it seems others don’t.
Today, we’re thinking of the increased violence among Asian America’s most vulnerable. Like you, we are devastated seeing our most valued – our elders – become the victims of such hostility and hatred.
*And* we’re thinking of how other minority groups, including Hispanic, Black, and Pacific Islander Americans, have stepped into our grief with so much generosity and concern. Let’s be tender about the ways we validate each other’s fears, and smart about what will and won’t address them. Human dignity is not a zero sum game. Anti-blackness cannot be our vengeance.
Finally, we can be upset that our pain isn’t more widely acknowledged *AND* support longstanding community organizers who have always quietly done the work. We don’t have to wait to be saved.
We are thinking about you. We always will.
We defer to the leadership of longstanding grassroots organizers mobilizing and teaching us to meaningfully care for each other:
Stop AAPI Hate | Report a hate incident in one of 12 languages
CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities | CAAAV works to build grassroots community power across diverse poor and working class Asian immigrant and refugee communities in New York City