that Andrew Yang controversy

People made a big deal about that one viral dress. That one dress that got the entire world taking sides and calling each other idiots for not seeing what they see. You were either Team Yellow & White or Team Blue & Black. At the time, I only saw yellow and white but I eventually could see both sides when straining my eyes a little more. It was stupid. I got so fucking sick of people being adamant about the color of a dress. Because no one was truly wrong. It was just a matter of how your eyes interpreted the lighting in the picture.

Recently, I’ve heard a lot of opinions (and very strong ones, oof) about Andrew Yang’s column on the Washington Post in response to the huge rise of xenophobic acts against Asian Americans. It caught my attention right away because it’s rare to come across a political figure speak up about racism towards Asian Americans. I was curious to see what he had to say because the responses within the Asian American community suggested that it was problematic.

"We Asian Americans need to embrace and show our American-ness in ways we never have before. We need to step up, help our neighbors, donate gear, vote, wear red white and blue, volunteer, fund aid organizations, and do everything in our power to accelerate the end of this crisis. We should show without a shadow of a doubt that we are Americans who will do our part for our country in this time of need.

Demonstrate that we are part of the solution. We are not the virus, but we can be part of the cure." 

 

- Andrew Yang

Oh I get it now. I see the problem. 

Many were outraged. And even offended. They felt betrayed that a public figure who was Asian American wasn’t backing up his people. They were disappointed to see that it seemed like he wasn’t taking the position of a spearhead to lead a movement of Asian American empowerment against these micro and macro aggressions that have blown up due to Covid-19. They were sick of being accepting and nonchalant of the treatment they received their entire lives. They would not accept racism towards Asians to be normalized anymore. They just wanted someone with some political influence to speak up for them. They were fed up. BUT, they were told to unleash their ‘Americanness’. To them, it seemed like they were encouraged to suck it up and assimilate to the American culture like they already have for generations in order to avoid conflicts that would harm them and their family. Well known Asian American celebrities/influencers have spoken up about their disappointment in what Andrew had to say and it created a trail of supporters for this backlash. With this rising hate towards Asians, the Asian American community will not sit still and fight back.

Not going to lie, my initial reaction was to immediately tweet at Andrew and ask what’s up? Why do I got to prove my Americanness to anyone because I am pretty darn American. But I had to re-read and then process his words to truly understand the big picture of his intention. I feel like it’s easy to immediately get frustrated when we’re not told to clap back or not hearing what we want to hear. Most of the time, we forget the long term consequences of our actions when we’re driven by a surge of emotions. And in this case, giving the Asian American community what they want to hear is not effective in solving the problem. During this pandemic, the biggest problem at hand is defeating Covid-19 and uplifting each other, regardless of race. Andrew’s intention of telling us to “show our American-ness” was to encourage Asian Americans to fight hate with love (as cheesy as it sounds) by coming together as a nation to defeat the virus and prove to our fellow Americans that we are not the problem. If we’re going to receive hate and be accused of starting the virus, then we’ll work hard to prove that the virus is the true enemy, not us. There was much more that was said in response to what he wrote as they picked and interpreted his words in their own lenses. Kinda like that dress. But either way, I can personally relate to the community’s general response to what he said. I don’t think it’s the best execution for a community of POC to stomach, but in my opinion, his intentions are on the right track.