By now, everyone has seen the media coverage of the hate-crime in Atlanta that left 8 people dead, 6 of them Asian American women. Even just typing that summary bugs the shit out of me because 6 of 8 is NOT a name, unless you're talking about Star Trek. Let me try that again, and automatically do better than 90% of mainstream media outlets without even trying that hard. I'll start by saying all their names. On the evening of March 16, 2021, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Soon Chung Park, Hyung JunGrant, Suncha Kim, and Yong Ae Yue were senselessly gunned down in a hate-motivated shooting across several spas in the Atlanta, GA area by murderer, religious crackpot, and confirmed walking human mistake, Robert Aaron Long, whose father really should have used proper contraception 21 years and 9 months ago. That's the last time we're going to mention him by name here - because just like the tissue he should have ended his existence in, he ain't worth mentioning again.
What we're going to talk about here is this strawberry cream cake and why it's important.
This is a strawberry fresh cream cake. It's a classic. It's the kind of thing every Chinese parent would consider the quintessential birthday cake - not too sweet and it's got fruit, so what's not to like? I'm told by the Asian flex-baking FB group I've been a part of that this is Xiaojie "Emily" Tan's favorite kind of cake (because of course it is. I thought of my own mom when I read that). We're all being asked if we can bake and share around recipes for fresh strawberry cream cakes today because it's the kind of birthday cake that Xiaojie Tan would never come home to enjoy with her family after work on Tuesday - she was killed the day before her 50th birthday. I'll probably be flexing my baking game later today - hashtag is #cakesforXiaojie if you want to join me. I just want to do something productive, and right now it's a real toss-up for me between using my knives to cut up strawberries, or handing 'em out as shanks to all the elderly Asian people in the neighborhood to defend themselves (special thanks to Nadia Sharif for the idea). ¿Por qué no los dos?
Anyway, why am I telling you about this? Because now Xiaojie Tan is not just a faceless statistic - 1 out of 8 victims of a mass shooting - she is a PERSON, and now you know something about her and the family and community she left behind. And that is really the crux of the matter, isn't it? Now she is human to you, where she might not have been before. Think hard about your Asian friends for a second (you do have them, right?). What immediately comes to mind? Do you immediately define them by a talent, skill, accomplishment, or service they provide, or do you think of their personality traits and the shared experiences you've had in your lives? If you find yourself thinking first about the things they do for you, you may want to start reframing your mindset. Asian people - we're a culture of doers - that's what many of us were brought up on... but that does not mean we are automatons. Shit, I make robots and they work way less hard than any Asian person I know. We are humans too - not just "others" who do things, make things, and eat things that seem foreign to the western eye.
The "other-ing," exoticising, and dehumanizing of Asian Americans - many of whom tirelessly provide for American communities with their labor - it's that attitude that makes us nameless and faceless, defined by the services we render to you. And it's that same attitude that enables the kind of mental gymnastics involved in arriving at the conclusion that a perfectly fine way to "remove temptation" is simply killing them, instead of... literally anything else? It's xenophobia, it's sexism, it's racism, it's every -ism and -phobia that causes people to think it's okay to harm another person because they can't connect or see themselves in that person.
I'm putting on my Tiger Mom slippers right now and telling you that it's time to cut that shit out. Do better. There is no excuse. There is no "them." "They" are me. Some of the most beloved and well-meaning people in my life have come out of the woodwork to ask me "how are you feeling?" as if a race-related mass-murder making the news is suddenly making me more scared/paranoid about LWA (living-while-Asian) than I've already been my entire life. Let me tell you, it's real awkward when you launch into a conversation about "oh work-life balance has been tough, and my bowels have been acting up" and then you realize they mean "hey, I'm shocked about this hate crime, and since they're your people, I want to know your thoughts." Maybe they think I'm shocked because I don't have it so bad most of the time, on account of belonging to a Model Minority, but who really knows anyway, because if shit's bad for someone in a model minority, it's totally kept on the DL (that's part of the deal - Americans get to look like they treat model minorities well, as long as we serve them - but we're still actually considered lesser and disposable once it's no longer convenient).
My friends, I appreciate the gesture, but I've always known for my entire life that I've belonged to a hated demographic (you guys, it sucks SO hard to be an Asian woman - I could write an entire blog post about it and it wouldn't even scratch the surface), and the racism, sexism, every -ism goes so deep that it's exhausting for most of us to continuously speak out on the matter, so like most people who just want to exist, I just "deal with it" and work my life around it so that I can see any kind of success at all. After a point, my feelings about it remain the same (angry, disgusted), and they don't really matter as much as my actions. So... today I'm going to say "the time to feel feelings is over - now it's time to do something constructive." The Tiger Mom in me urges you to do the same - do something useful with your feelings. Even if this is just the cause of the week that you're responding to, don't just feel your feelings about it and post #StopAAPIHate as your useless little profile pic on social media then move on. We're AWARE. We're drowning in your awareness of hate. Anyone who isn't aware at this point is just willfully ignorant. DO something. Here's what we're doing:
From March 19 to March 21, the profits from every purchase from the Tasty Treat webshop will be donated to the following 3 organizations. We are also now offering the option of adding a donation in $5 increments to your order (100% of it will be passed along to the organization of your choice if specified):
These are our 3 picks for this particular sale. There are MANY worthwhile organizations to donate to and become involved with, and I highly encourage you to take the time to do more research to see where you can help (Google will bring you to a wealth of resources, especially right now). Apart from donation, what can you do? You can become involved in your local Asian communities. Many are organizing safety patrols for Asian neighborhoods and volunteer opportunities to escort the elderly to safely go grocery shopping. You can order from Asian-owned restaurants, shop at Asian-owned businesses, take training to understand how to recognize and intervene if you suspect a hate-related incident is occurring (many of these incidents occur in broad daylight and public places because people just seem to have the caucasity to think there won't be any repercussions). You can send a racist attacker to the hospital using an improvised weapon, like this badass lady here... that'd be fine by me.
For those of you who may be offended by the lack of gravity in my tone on such a serious matter - I want to tell you that it's not that I'm not outraged, or I take the concept of hate in America lightly. You're asking me to turn the volume up higher when I'm already up at a 10. I can't shout any louder. I can't be any more disgusted than I have been my entire life. I can't be surprised at what happened in ATL. I can't be your performer today and go through the motions of being outraged, respectful, then educational, and talk about why murdering 8 people isn't right no matter what kind of a victim of society, poor education, and toxic masculinity you may be. I'm just so... tired. So please, just do your Tiger Mom a favor and DO BETTER, everyone.