I feel the conscientious need to address the matter. I could make a thing of addressing any sociopolitical matter that I paid enough attention to. Thing is I find myself only able to use this nascent movement for whatever I subjectively can contribute something to, with no one to answer to criteria of academia, non-fiction, fiction, everything in-between.
Ethically I write about this cause it feels I could articulate on this given matter, and it personally matters that I act on it. Infinitely less significantly, I write about this cause I practically will not be able to continue work until I exorcise this societal poison inside me.
I feel rage towards the anti-Asian hate that’s escalated to the point where even elders are killed. I imagine the full life Vicha Ratanapakdee lived, his having gotten his covid vaccine, and the peaceful morning walks he took before a cowardly thug went out of the way and murdered him, caught on video for the world to see. And this is one death out of more happening for the same baseline reason. I feel rage towards all the craven bigots who make the choice to act on the evil they’re capable of. Hate springs eternal through infinite branches; and unlike hope, the resulting loss from hate is permanent. You can’t resurrect who’s taken and stolen away.
At the baseline, Vicha Ratanapakdee’s and George Floyd’s deaths are summed up the same: a bigot killed a person of color.
Some differences: Floyd was a person-of-color citizen killed by an oppressive cop. Ratanapakdee was a person-of-color citizen killed by a person-of-color citizen—notably the same color as Floyd.
I write this as an Asian whose closest to a goddaughter is Black even if I’m not religious nor a woman because the godfather role is taken. I’m writing as a person of color who wants collective racial harmony. I’m not writing to compare stats, argue metrics of discrimination, or claim what group has it worse which way. I’m writing because somewhere in the western world, one racialized minority group is hurting another racialized minority group, and the causes root back to a majority system that not only oppresses racialized minority groups but pits them against each other blatantly and systematically.
Blacks were painted a public threat; Asians were veiled a model minority. It took an 8-minute video of a black man being taken into custody then suffocated to death for black lives to matter on a global spotlight. Less than 8 seconds on another video has an elderly Asian man with zero provocation killed just like that; it’s like people barely noticed.
I psychologically get it; that’s partly where my grieving stems from. Blacks’ struggles have historically been more exposed and violent; Asians’ are more dismissed and subtle. Attention to bigotry is given attention only so much as it’s too glaring to willingly ignore. And it’s that dichotomy that’s lead to the more recent tragedies as with Vicha Ratanapakdee.
Covid happens and the bigots vilify Asians, but because Asian struggles go unheard, the virus of bigotry is allowed by the responsible and the complicit to spread. Blacks are disproportionately underserved / underprivileged, those conditions made worse by the pandemic.
There is no rational way to not acknowledge a direct link then from both anti-Black and anti-Asian persecution to Vicha Ratanapakdee’s murder by a Black person, Black attacks on Asians at Oakland’s Chinatown, and the global community’s wider Asian persecution unaddressed since covid-19 started. And I highlight Asians for the very fact that they historically go unheard.
I’ve seen the race war that the bigots rigged onto racialized groups. Somewhere along history, Blacks through being heard and seen were then also appropriated; Black culture and attitude were connivingly capitalized on by non-Blacks because it was cool to ignorantly associate with a history and struggle they have zero understanding of. I’ve seen it as early as elementary school with the pieces of shit non-Blacks who assimilated with the Blacks cause it made them feel “gangsta” and so gave them some fake advantage over the other colored kid[s] they started a race war with.
Separate from the fact that Blacks’ struggles must be heard, I feel rage that in an era where people seem more inclined to pay attention to what’s wrong—Vicha Ratanapakdee’s murder matters less. I feel rage at this event, which resulted from a course collision between Asian and Black oppression over the last year. This was propagated and pitted to happen, and now it risks being just [another thing] in a post-desensitized numb world.
But Asians have been stigmatized since the start of covid-19. They still are. And a public murder caught on video still doesn’t seem enough for their case to be widely fought for. So I ask rhetorically to the bigots, the complicit, and the ignorant who aren’t reading anyway—
How many more? And will Blacks be collectively vilified even more now for this?
I’m filled with dread at the implications—and what it means about the cultural landscape—of where we’re all going. You take the Asian and the Black tags off, replace them with any other ethnic-socio-cultural groups and it’s the same. As I implied, this isn’t an argument for the race war. And the cruel irony never wears off: the fact that “race” separates us. We’re only one race.
I know there’s always still people speaking up and fighting for all the vulnerable. I believe that ultimately the hate that’s been spread only further by pieces of shit like the evicted ex-president, his legion, and his legacy cannot outnumber those who want a world where it’s not everything on fire 24/7.
And unless you relate background-wise or even emotionally, you likely don’t feel why you should care that much. But while also not generalizing why it matters to me—I don’t need to be Thai to remember Vicha Ratanapakdee and to know why this matters to me. You don’t have to be the same African as George Floyd to know why it mattered and still matters to you. And we shouldn’t have to all look like each other to matter to each other.