Racial Unity During COVID-19

by , on
2020-03-30
[Originally posted on Facebook.]

Beating this pandemic alone will be costly
We can’t afford hate during this crisis
To be Chinese does not equal disease
I am Asian American, I am not a virus

It’s not uncommon for human fear
To refuse to focus on real dangers
Believing instead in a false “Us vs Them”
Seeing enemies instead of simply strangers

Yet love can overcome fear
People all over are linking arms in this fight
I want to put their stories and their faces,
Their unity that’s contagious, in the spotlight

Like the doctors in Zhejiang, China sharing expertise
Through a Zoom call connecting west and east
Answering questions for their USA colleagues
Even praying for American’s fighting this disease

(https://www.statnews.com/…/covid-19-answers-doctors-turn-t…/)

Or the Chinese Red Cross sending medical staff
Along with 30 tons of supplies
All the way to beleaguered Rome
Where death counts continue to rise

(https://www.reuters.com/…/china-sends-medical-supplies-expe…)

Millions of masks, test kits, and ventilators sent
By a Chinese billionaire whose giving isn’t done
To help the USA, Italy, & Russia, Africa & Latin America
Living out what it means to believe We Are One

(https://www.cnn.com/…/jack-ma-donate-masks-coron…/index.html)

Nations are being neighborly
Like South Korea donating test kits
500 to the Philippines and
50,000 to the United Arab Emirates

(https://www.nbcnews.com/…/china-south-korea-taiwan-sending-…)

Asian Americans have been doing their part
Even within the borders of these United States
Donating medical supplies and raising funds
As we face the rising of anti-Asian hate

In Houston, a $42,000 donation of supplies
Long Island: $70,000 by Chinese American Associations
From Vegas to Charleston, Michigan to Idaho
If you look for the helpers, you’ll find many are Asians

Yes some are thinking first about money and power
Politically gaming and blaming to protect their own
But many are crossing divides of race and nation
The best of love and unity in humanity can be shown

Acknowledging Our Losses, Little and Large

by , on
2020-03-28

I originally shared this on Instagram / Facebook but it’s important enough to me to preserve it here. As nearly 1/3 of the world is under some form of coronavirus related social restrictions, there are varying degrees of loss happening. Please share if it resonates with you.

At first, I rushed to prepare and plan for my household. I checked our pantry, cancelled trips, and shelved some less immediate needs and feelings.

Now the dust is settling. Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of my April calendar. All the plans we’d made. My oldest’s birthday. A trip to see grandparents in Texas. My little brother’s wedding in Colorado. Two nights in Sun River.

I realized I need finally stop and take a moment to grieve what we’ve given up. I’m going to take that moment now and invite you to join me.

[Image features hand-lettering on a cut piece of paper, with a sharpie and scissors nearby. It reads: “Lamenting all we’ve lost”]

If I don’t do it, it will be harder to stay the course, to stay home and stay positive through these next few weeks. Or longer. Unacknowledged loss leaves my heart yearning for things to go “back to normal”, opening a door for discontent and bitterness.

If I do acknowledge the impact all this has had on me, it helps me let go and embrace the changes, both now and long term. It will be easier to let God redefine life as I know it, to create a new lifestyle, craft new dreams, and move forward in uncertainty.

It may feel odd given the magnitude of what our world is facing and the fact that we likely all know someone who has been impacted more than we have, who has lost more. However, I promise you it helps to acknowledge your own losses and frustrations, both big and small.

Image features the words below in blue font on white paper.

The Things I Have Cancelled:

Trips to the park or the zoo or the gym.
Coffee with a friend or date nights.
5ks or marathons, the fundraisers or awards.
Eagerly anticipated vacations.
Visits with grandparents and playdates.
Weddings, graduations, birthday parties.
Weekly Bible studies, monthly book clubs.

Loosing these makes me feel:
Disappointed, angry, frustrated, sad, cheater…lonely, scared.

Image features words below in green font on white paper.

The Things That Have Changed:

My daily routine or my family’s schedule.
How/ When/ Where/ If I work. Or Workout.
How I do simple errands or connect with others.
My budget and how I use my resources.
Financial goals. Fitness goals. Family goals.
If/ When I get time to pursue any goals.
Travel plans. My certainty about the future.

These changes make me feel:
Annoyed, uncomfortable, anxious, stressed…unhappy, restless.

I acknowledge the impact all this has on me.

Image features the words below in blue font on white paper.

Even though I still have hope
Even though I have reasons for joy

It’s okay to grieve what I’ve given up
It’s okay to lament all I’ve lost

I know I’m not alone
I will be kind to myself and others

I will be okay
Even if things never go back to the way they were

I believe God is with me
Even if things get worse before they get better

What losses or changes are you lamenting and grieving?

Image features hand-lettering on white paper with coffee mug and sharpie. It reads:
“Grieving what we’re giving up.”

Then & Now: The Mongolian Octopus

by , on
2020-03-09

I’d planned on reposting a series I’d done on Facebook in 2018 that compared political cartoons from the late 1800s and early 1900s to issues we were facing today. Turns out a lot of those posts are mysteriously gone from my Facebook feed.

However, we can analyze this one today.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Mongolian_octopus.png

This one was titled ‘The Mongolian Octopus – His Grip on Australia’ and was published in Sydney, from The Bulletin [‘Australia for the White Man’], August 21, 1886.

Fears of the “Yellow Peril” were not a USA only problem. Pretty much any area colonized by white, western europeans also felt threatened by the mass immigration of Chinese people and east asians in general.

Then & Now

You can see how “small pox” and “typhoid” – the medical threats of the day – are associated with Chinese. Today, as Asians all over the world are sharing how they’ve been verbally and physically attacked because of a racist connection between them and the coronavirus, we see not much has changed. #IAmNotAVirus is only necessary in a world that associates anyone east asian with disease and infection.

Other labels in this cartoon (cheap labour, robbery, immorality, drugs), should remind us of the labels being put on immigrants and asylum seekers at the USA’s southern border. When you hear your aunt or neighbor expressing their concern about the criminals coming in from the US-Mexico border, it is the same thing. The fear of Chinese immigrant in the 1880s was no less real to them as the fear of the Latin immigrant is today. And no less racist either.

We know better, don’t we?

Today we know that all people are made in the image of God. Right? That there is no race or ethnicity, no culture or heritage that is inherently immoral, diseased, or criminal. I hope so. However, it’s clear we still have not fully eradicated these ideas from our collective cultural conscious.

When the news broke about Coronavirus and media/press grabbed any image of east asian people (images from unrelated events and places) they could find to attach to their articles…it was a false association with damaging effect.

It revealed how the former racist narratives of Chinese and east asian people still exists in our collective imagination. We’ve not done a good enough job of deconstructing these biases.

Learning From History

I think it helps to look at these things from history…look at something from a safe distance of “we know better now” because we can clearly see how wrong this cartoon is and how dehumanizing it is.

Then we can ask ourselves, in what subtle ways are we still doing this? Still tempted too or permissive of associated a racial/ethnic group with infection, disease, immorality or generally being a threat to ‘our way of life’?

Read More

I have a new article up at The Art of Taleh:

Questioning Our Perceptions: COVID-19 and Yellow Peril.

Here is an exerpt:

“It is not difficult to hate someone once we’ve perceived them to be a threat. The depictions (in words and images) of East Asians as the evil and threatening “yellow peril” have deep roots in our cultural history and COVID-19 is merely proving how little has changed. […] Yet God urges us throughout the Bible to resist all lies and deceptions; to take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). What might that look like during the rise of COVID-19?”