Editor’s Note: This post is not an excuse to further perpetuate racism toward any group.
From Los Angeles to New York City, people of Asian descent have been recording racist and xenophobic incidents online, more often than not related to the racism and xenophobia brought on by COVID-19, but this time the anti-Asian sentiment has come to light at a 7-Eleven in Washington D.C.
A member of the Board of Directors at Conference on Asian Pacific American Leadership (CAPAL), who wants to be identified only as Billy, was walking his bike into a 7-Eleven at 14th Street and O Street near Thomas Circle and Logan Circle at 11:45 a.m. EST on Wednesday when a man walked past him to cut in line.
“He tries to cut in front of me and I told him I was in line. That’s when he got upset and proceeded to unapologetically and shamelessly call me a ch*nk multiple times,” the 30-year-old Cambodian American told NextShark in an email. “I tried to immediately get people’s attention so others were aware of what was happening. There were 1 or 2 other bystanders standing closeby, besides the cashier.”
Billy, who was born in Wisconsin, added that the cashier didn’t step in to help him, even when he was prompted to do so. When the camera turned off, that’s when the man tried to physically threaten Billy.
“I walked away at that point because I’m not stupid enough to get into a physical fight with an irrational person,” he explained.
While Billy has received praise for standing up for himself, he wants to emphasize that racism against Asian people is nothing new and it happens all the time.
“Those who are vulnerable — Asian English language learners and immigrants — experience this very often, but people don’t hear about it because Asian people in the U.S. are disinclined to ’cause trouble’ by not accepting this racism as a fact of our experience and ‘letting it roll off our backs,'” he continued. “We can’t just let this stuff roll off our backs — whether we are personally victims or others around us are. We need to step in and speak up, always.”
Billy is calling for people of color and those who have been the target of discrimination to stand with each other in solidarity.
“People of color cannot afford to do this to each other, especially right now,” he said in a phone call with NextShark. “There is racist sentiment in every community. But that doesn’t excuse acting in moments of anger. And that doesn’t excuse us mistreating each other. Politically speaking, it’s not advantageous also for us not to be in alignment.”
Billy argued that it is time to transcend beyond the “Black-White binary.”
“We need to attend to the relationships between Asian people and Black people and Brown people as well as White people because racism isn’t just a Black-White thing,” he said.