Kim Tran said it’s been a “really painful year,” one filled with fear that she and her family have felt throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The group Stop AAPI Hate has documented about 3,800 anti-Asian incidents since the start of the pandemic. In Tran’s city of Oakland, California, there has been a rash of assaults against older adults in the city’s Chinatown. Tran, too, described how she’s personally felt the anti-Asian sentiment in her own neighborhood.
Tran, who studies issues of race and social justice movements, said she’s noticed how people turn away from her while she walks her dog, specifically young white women who pull their jackets closer and cross the street. These women would then share the sidewalk with other people, she said, and not move away from them.
“If it’s just me and my tiny dog, and you suddenly cross the street, there’s no mistaking it for anything else,” she told the PBS NewsHour’s Stephanie Sy.
Tran said that the conversations around race in America often fall into binary terms.
“There’s white folks, there’s Black folks, and we really have failed to talk about anyone who is not in one of those two groups,” Tran said. “What we’re seeing now is Asian Americans are, for some reason, a ‘surprise’ in terms of the racial discourse of this country.”
Tran also said there’s this “impulse” in the country to erase the experience of Asian Americans.
This is because, in part, of a “manufactured narrative about Asian Americans,” she said.
“The rubric of talking about us is through that lens of we don’t take up a lot of space. We’re not really politically active. We don’t experience racism in any way, shape or form, let alone to the extent of really obvious forms of racial violence,” she said, and that doesn’t match with reality.
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