My heart is aching for my Asian brothers and sister. I wanted to discuss an old mindset that keeps Asians/Persians/Arabs/Latinos as forever foreigners.
What makes someone a forever foreigner? Is it their skin color, is it their culture, civilization, or their religion? America has had a notion of who is American, and who isn’t, and the “other” has been baked into that notion.
As we look at the old mindsets of hate? How does this impact our community and culture at work? Watching the news last week was extremely traumatic for us all, but especially for our Asian American and Pacific Islander community, that doesn’t know what to expect next. Communities of color have been seeing the rise of xenophobia, especially once the pandemic hit.
There is a collective traumatization that happens when there is a mass hate crime or a mass violent act. Many times, we do not stop and take time to discuss it, and keep it shut out due to time. Know that many are looking for safe spaces, to know they will be safe in society and at work.
The words our leaders would use, Chinese Flu or the Chinese Virus. Much like it did in the turn of the century, by calling that pandemic the Spanish flu, really amplified people’s xenophobia and blame for this pandemic.
So, what are ways to show support, specifically for the Asian American and Pacific Islander community?
Great place to start is with your words, do people on your team say or use the Chinese flu which is blaming one whole group for the pandemic? It could have begun anywhere and actually one of the first cases of someone who didn’t travel to China was in the US in Washington state.
How would we feel if people around the world called the virus The American Virus?
Sometimes stepping into someone else’s shoes can really build more inner compassion for what others are feeling. We must be willing to do inner work to understand this mindset and not let it intersect our own. We have to see how we carry this within our own minds to ensure it doesn’t deteriorate our collective society.
Historically, this has happened to the AAPI community and other communities of color as well. So, this is a scab being teared off again. How can we stop the bleeding? Knowing that the old mindset kept immigrants as forever foreigners. This old mindset would acknowledge that their civilizations are ancient and attach some exoticism to it and view it as inferior to ours.
This old mindset is validating a mentality that allows us to be in a forever war with foreigners.
I mention this so that we can begin to critically examine, how these are tied together, and how this keeps us in the forever cycle of war globally and domestically view AAPI community members as outside of the American experience.
Supporting the AAPI community looks different for every team, but taking leadership speaking to the violence that has happened and verbally saying it’s wrong is the first step. Speaking to real fear and anger to see such a heinous crime happen to our most vulnerable is heart breaking. Creating space for our humanity to be embraced, understanding that everyone will process this differently is a huge part of leading with equity as a priority.
We are one people, we are humans, and we all deserve to live in peace and thrive at work and in our communities.
Thank you for all the work you do for your team, it’s not easy but we get to grow and expand our definition of service.
I go further into this mindset and how it has plagued our collective growth and consciousness, if you interested in a customized workshop, schedule a call.
May you have a transformative week during these challenging times.
Annabel Quintero, M.Ed.