People tell me all the time that I am brave. That they could never. That they would, but they would lose friends, family, or business.
I understand that. I am familiar with fear. It is my constant companion.
I do not begrudge people their reasons. I do not presume to know them, their experiences, their motivations. I can only know mine – and even then, I see them only through a veil; unclear.
I am afraid.
I am afraid that in this time and place, when I interact with the world outside, they will see my Asian face, my Asian body, and they will at best, silently scream racist epithets at me and at worst, assault or kill me.
I am afraid to bring my four Asian children outside.
I am afraid because this is how my black friends must feel every single day of their lives.
I am afraid when the anti-Asian sentiment cycles out that I will forget.
I am afraid that I won’t.
I am afraid because I am also a woman and a vocal one at that.
I am afraid because I am online and a semi-public person. I have already been stalked and had to issue restraining orders. Will I also be doxxed?
I am afraid to be an Asian American woman who is online as a semi-public person with children that strangers have seen and recognized on the street. Even in different countries.
I am afraid to read the news.
I am afraid to hear that awful man’s voice, the charlatan at the seat of the United States of America. The country of my birth. The country that I love.
I am afraid of white people – both the ones I know (will this be the day they show me who they really are?) and the ones I do not.
I am afraid what this says about me as a person. About the white friends I know and love.
I am afraid China, a country of half my people, will swallow the country of my other people. As Hong Kong goes, so will Taiwan.
I am afraid I will lose even more friends to death in this season. All unrelated to the pandemic, but still, final. All abbreviated. A period instead of a semicolon. Full stop.
I am afraid for my family, immediate and extended.
I am afraid that I will see my friends die, will see more of their loved ones die, and see strangers die.
I am afraid that I will never see BTS in concert again.
I am afraid that even my small fears are too small. Too trivial. Too mundane to matter.
I am afraid that I will be seen as a whore, an old bag, or a shameful harlot because I appreciate attractive humans – and unapologetically thirst.
I am afraid that who I am online will prevent me from achieving my dreams of interviewing BTS in person.
I am afraid that I am failing my children.
I am afraid for my black friends, because America has always deemed them not human and acted accordingly. My black friends, black Americans, black people in general, deserve better. They deserve to live in peace. They deserve to breathe. They deserve to live in a country that does not actively try to legislate away their personhood.
I am afraid I am not vocal enough on their behalf.
I am afraid that when I am not speaking up, that people will see me as a hypocrite.
I am afraid that is the only reason I do speak up.
I am afraid that I only speak up out of self-preservation; that I am virtue signaling. That it is out of quid pro quo versus the right thing to do.
I am afraid that I will succumb to the panic I constantly feel, oppressing my chest. That if I have to read one more article on how black, brown, yellow, and red persons are not welcome, not allowed, not seen, not heard in the America that I both love and hate – because I love it so – I will scream.
I am afraid that I will never stop weeping.
I am afraid that one day, I will not weep anymore.
I am afraid that I am not eloquent enough, not smart enough, not bulletproof enough to say my piece.
I am afraid that I am not enough.
I am afraid. I am always afraid.
I am afraid that I will always be afraid.
I am afraid and so I shout: You cannot have me. You cannot claim this space. I will not allow it.