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I spent the late afternoon of March 26 at Loyola’s student-led vigil for the eight victims of the Atlanta spa shooting. I did double duty that day — helping cover the event as a reporter, but also as a mourner like the rest of the crowd.
Vigils and rallies have been happening all over the country, with one in Chicago’s Chinatown just last weekend.
My thoughts on the rise of anti-Asian violence since the pandemic are scattered, and I’m still processing my emotions. In the coming days and weeks, it’ll eventually come together in another column — but one thing still can’t escape my mind.
In watching and reading about the rallies all over the country, one aspect of anti-Asian violence — arguably one of the most important — continues to be left out of mainstream discourse: the connection between anti-Asian violence at home, and U.S. imperialism abroad.
It’s hard to know when to begin because of the extensive history of violent U.S. interference in Asia.
The bloody wars in Korea and Vietnam, the colonization of the Philippines, the occupation of Okinawa…
The list goes on and on.
U.S. involvement in Asia isn’t just a thing for history books since it lives on to this day. It’s economic sanctions on North Korea that hurt its citizens. It’s maintaining vast swathes of military personnel and bases in the Philippines, South Korea and Japan.
There’s plenty of work to be done internally, other important aspects I’ll touch on in the coming weeks. But one of the most impactful ways the U.S. can stop Asian hate is to stop U.S. imperialism in Asia.
Like most children of immigrants, I was told by my parents that coming to the U.S. was the pathway to a better life — better than what their home country offered. But taking the case of my dad and grandparents, who came from the Philippines, I can’t help but wonder how things could be different.
Would they still have been forced to leave if the U.S. hadn’t supported the right-wing dictator Ferdinand Marcos? Or if the U.S. hadn’t colonized it for nearly 50 years after “winning it” from the Spanish?
That’s why it’s so painful and frustrating to see the Asian diaspora in the U.S. attempt to rectify this wave of hate with affirmations of their “American-ness.”
U.S. imperialism in Asia is the manifestation of white supremacy — nothing will change by showing how much you love a country that doesn’t love you.
Why should we cozy up to the empire that ruined our homes in the first place?