How Am I Supposed to Explain to My Children Why We Asians Are Being Attacked? | Opinion

I watched the video over and over in horror: A tiny, 65-year-old Asian woman, who looked a lot like my sweet, deceased mother, was brutally beaten, kicked in the head multiple times. Her attacker yelled, "F--- you! You don't belong here!"

UPDATE: The suspect wanted in a brutal attack of an Asian American woman has been arrested and charged with felony assault as a hate crime, NYPD said.

The victim, 65, was discharged from the hospital Tuesday after being treated for serious injuries, AP reports. #StopAsianHate

— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) March 31, 2021

It was the second video that day. A few hours earlier, I had watched a TikTok video in which an Asian man was viciously beaten on the subway in New York City. His attacker screamed, "You motherf---ing Asian!"

The most appalling thing about both of these videos is that the bystanders did nothing to intercede.

In the case of the 65-year-old woman, surveillance video showed a security guard nonchalantly watch the brutal assault through open doors from a distance of maybe 12 feet without reacting at all. The sound from his walkie talkie is audible and confirms that he can't even be bothered to call it in. After the assault, while the woman is lying listless on the sidewalk, two other security guards casually make their way to the doors to close them, instead of rushing to her aid.

The police recently confirmed that no one even called 911.

I watched this video at least 15 times, hoping I missed something redeeming in it. I have been reading a lot of news lately about the rise in Anti-Asian hate crimes, but seeing it is somehow different.

I really can't understand how someone could attack a little grandma, someone just like my mom, in a racially motivated hate crime. Can this really be because Trump called Covid-19 the "China-virus" and the "Kung Flu," and because he more broadly normalized racist rhetoric?

Even more disturbing than the evil act of one or two sick perpetrators is the lack of action on the part of the bystanders. As an Asian-American woman, born in New Jersey with an "American identity" as strong as anyone's, it makes me wonder if the reason no one cares enough to act is because of the way we look. Because I have black hair and almond eyes, will people always see me as a "foreigner" in my own country? So much so that no one cares when someone who looks like me is brutally beaten, stomped on, and bludgeoned in public?

In the subway incident, onlookers watch the brutal attack with utter indifference. The victim is punched again and again, and put in a chokehold. No one moves to help. One woman is heard in the background saying "Stop," but a train full of male witnesses act as if they are watching a boring TV show, instead of a man being bludgeoned to the point of hospitalization. That a group of people who far outnumber the attacker would "rather not get involved" reveals a disturbing truth about our standards of civic responsibility and cultural norms of right and wrong.

As I wrestle with how to explain these instances to my three half-Asian children, I come up empty. Why are Asians targeted? Why do some people hate us with such venom? Will someone attack Mommy because of how she looks? There are no good answers.

Asian Attack
Twitter Screenshot

On top of it, why are most racially motivated hate crimes, like the Atlanta spa shooting, described as instances of white supremacy, when so many of the attacks are perpetrated by other minorities in their shared low-income communities? And really, does it matter? The race of the attacker should not determine how much outrage or intervention is appropriate.

This is a critical moment in our nation's history and its collective stance on race. Just as there are good cops and bad cops, and ethical politicians and unethical ones, each one of us is a free-thinking individual with agency, informed and motivated by unique life experiences. We are not human embodiments of politically prescribed racial stereotypes. The same way I do not wish to be targeted because of my outward appearance, neither do I wish to absolve or condemn crimes based the race of the assailant.

If I do ever get attacked because I'm Asian or at random, I hope someone—of any race—will help me. And I hope I would do the same.

Patricia Pan Connor is a freelance writer and investor. Formerly, she was an investment banker and private equity investor, based in New York City. Patrica currently resides in Montecito, California. She graduated from Brown University with a B.A. in economics.

The views in this article are the writer's own.