Written by Katharine Chi
The beginning months of 2021 were filled with events that every Asian American will forever remember in their hearts. Since the pandemic began in 2020, there has been a rise in hate against Asians. In the month of April, thousands of people have gone out to protest and show strength against the surge of violent crimes against Asian Americans. Many of these protestors are youths and filled with passion, but there is a secret conflict going on in each Asian American’s household: traditional culture vs. modern culture.
Las Lomas senior, Chloe Shin, said, “The Asian community and culture in general has always been silent about racism towards us. Seeing in the news on how so many Asians that have been attacked, have stayed resilient, calm, and loving has shown the world how our culture deals with situations like these.” Las Lomas junior, Jasmine Pham, pointed out how her traditional culture “tends to associate silence with harmony.” Asian Americans today are breaking out of cultural boundaries due to their realization that passiveness against hate is a false sense of peace.
The recent hateful events have created a divide in culture, but there is hope for change. Shin said, “I do think that it is going to take a while for us, Asians, to get comfortable with speaking out more often. We feel like we have been silenced our whole lives, and it is going to take time to adjust.” The break in silence has been a moment of realization for many Asian Americans, and it has given time to reflect upon the past experiences that were regarded as miniscule value.
Shin said, “People always put these Asian stereotypes on me, mocking my eyes, and mocking my language. I came to realize in these recent years that this is something I don’t need to find a balance for, but instead, I should always feel offended and always stand up for myself. I will say that the journey to get to that realization has never been easy, as it hasn’t been for many others as well, but it is tough.” Speaking out and breaking silence has been considered an endeavor for many Asian Americans due to growing up surrounded by traditional, cultural values. On the other hand, Las Lomas science teacher, Jason Tong, said, “I’ve learned to care more about the opinions of those who really know me — my family and friends — and less about what society thinks.” There are different Asian opinions when dealing with society, and culture plays a key role in shaping the mindsets of such as Tong and Shin.
There is a struggle to find a balanced relationship with culture, but the outbreak from household values has liberated voices and induced a powerful social movement.