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6 AAPI Artists Reflect on the Spike in Anti-Asian Violence


Regarding Atlanta, I am demolished. I have been neurotically reading from Adrienne Rich’s 1972 book of poems, Diving into the Wreck, aloud. There’s one line in particular that reads: “You dream of dumping me into the sea.” I feel as if I, my mother, my father’s mother, my mother’s mother, and every Asian femme in the Euro-American West were all dumped into the sea pre-birth, pre-womb––immersed, asphyxiated in an ocean of whiteness and colonial mythologies, unable to ever assimilate, swallowing a forced mimicry imposed by assimilation, embodying a perpetual foreignness, and a prolonged state of melancholia.This insurmountable geyser of grief is a violent assault on the conditions of our bodies and their codification––an assault that is unprecedented for myself, and many of the Asian femmes in my life. Perhaps what is more painful is not the shooting itself, but the fact that it took a racialized, sexualized, gendered domestic terrorist attack (that then is sensationalized in the media) to allow for contemporary society to finally provide the Asian American community a sliver of space for a political voice and chance for self-advocacy. And still, the effect of our grief is felt by just a small proportion of white people.
I know our grief will be yet again eclipsed and invisibilized by the reifying of whiteness and colonial structures. It’s dehumanizing; I don’t feel human right now. My body doesn’t matter to most people I pass on the street in Los Angeles.The relentless societal invisibilization and silencing feedback loop of the lack of cultural and political voice Asian Americans are afforded has been enacted upon me in the interpersonal realm as well this week. I was assaulted by a white friend and no longer feel safe in my own living space with my white roommate due to gaslighting.The compounding micro and macro levels of trauma and white gaslighting have thrust me into an acute traumatic response––I couldn’t stop shaking for a week. I’m shaking as I write this. Every cell in my body, my ancestors’ bodies, is vibrating, enshrouded in embers. I have been on 24-hour suicide watch with friends. I understand postcolonial grief presents a loss that is impossible to overcome. I am just fighting to re-empower my dis-empowered self and community, and I recognize this cannot be done in the perpetual melancholic state or in residing in loss.