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Justice for Vicha
Asian American Allies
I used to live in the SF Bay Area in the 1990s. I have fond memories of that time.
However, the past few times I went there, it seemed really dark. The homelessness, the greed of tech bros, and a quiet desperation felt thick in the air. The culture had changed… a lot. In the nineties, there was still a counterculture vibe that rebelled against Hollywood and materialism. Today, that feels lost in dreams of Lambos on the moon and delusions about “making the world a better place” and having multimillion dollar exits.
My most recent trip to San Francisco was in the autumn of 2020. It felt like the apocalypse there. It was when the summer fires were happening, and one morning, when I stepped outside, it was very chilly, and the sky was blood red. It felt like… Hell.
In 2021, the sickness appears to be manifesting in very twisted ways.
A few weeks ago, Vicha Ratanapakdee, an 84 year old Thai man, was killed on his morning walk in San Francisco's Anza Vista neighborhood. It was horrifying to watch and there have been many other anti-Asian attacks in the Bay Area and other places.
Since the start of the pandemic last spring, Asian Americans have faced racist violence at a much higher rate than previous years. The NYPD reported that hate crimes motivated by anti-Asian sentiment jumped 1,900% in New York City in 2020. Stop AAPI Hate, a reporting database created at the beginning of the pandemic as a response to the increase in racial violence, received 2,808 reports of anti-Asian discrimination between March 19 and December 31, 2020. The violence has continued into 2021, and President Joe Biden signed an executive order denouncing anti-Asian discrimination shortly after taking office in January. While anti-Asian violence has taken place nationwide and particularly in major cities, the uptick in attacks in 2021 has been particularly focused in the Bay Area, especially in San Francisco and Oakland’s Chinatowns.
It is definitely upsetting, and awakens old memories of racism and abuse. There has been solidarity and support in the Asian American community, and it’s bringing up an important conversation. It’s about acknowledging the past and changing culture for the future.
However, I think the real priority is to find discernment in projects and partners. It seems that creating sovereignty by understanding the asymmetries in power dynamics is important. We are all more powerful than we might think. Allies come in all colors and creeds. Assholes do too.
It’s about finding alignment and trust, and reading energy.
There is a young woman from China who is a regular in many of the Clubhouse rooms. When the others in the rooms are concerned for her safety, she says, “Please don’t worry about me or self-censor. I’m not doing anything wrong. I believe in justice. I’ll be okay.”
With the events that are happening, I agree with this sentiment. It feels like a time for justice, but it’s also a time to build… with those who are aligned in the journey of becoming whole and worthy to build with. Many of my Asian and non-Asian friends have been building skills and capabilities for decades now. Now, it’s about becoming fit for service, and executing. There’s a lot of work to do.