Instagram is easily accessible, so I’ve been using it over the years to microblog and share things the way I used to on here. But even then, my platform isn’t that grand and my reach is alright at best. So whenever I bring up anything regarding issues in the AAPI community, it feels like I’m standing on a soap box in the middle of a barren strip mall on a weekday afternoon, with the occasional passerby saying “YEAH! YOU SAID IT, GIRL!” and walking away. My words leave an impression on a few, and are forgotten within minutes by others. Sometimes I wonder if it’s worth it to speak up and put my heart on the line like that. In the end, I always hit “Post” because what is the point of me having a voice if I don’t use it? If I don’t say anything, who will? My community has been silenced for far too long. I only hope I can add more fuel to the fire, however small it may be, to amplify our plight.
It also feels weird to go back to business as usual on social media. Does anyone give a shit if I have a dope new Pokémon dress when my community is in distress? I originally planned to post these pics for St. Patrick’s Day with a punny caption like “What’s your [Pokémon] type? 🌸🌿”, but it didn’t seem right.
I ended up posting them a few days later with this caption:
Pokémon is a source of joy, and revisiting the anime has been a fun escape over the past month. But I can’t help but think of Jiansheng Chen — a 60 year old Chinese American immigrant that played Pokémon Go as a way to connect with his nieces, nephews, and grandchildren. In 2017, he went out one night to play and a security guard shot him when he was parked outside of a clubhouse in Virginia. The reason? He felt threatened. That security guard had it all wrong though — *he* was the threat. My community has NEVER been safe. The violent attacks and senseless killings have been happening ever since we first stepped foot in this country. Over the years, countless members of my community have been verbally assaulted, beaten, or have had their lives taken just because they’re Asian. So many families are left to mend the shattered pieces of their broken hearts and figure out how to go on. Some can’t even stop to grieve because they have to look out for other people in their family. My heart goes out to all of them, including the loved ones of those Asian American women that were killed in the recent Atlanta shootings.
If I’m still thinking of Jiangsheng Chen after all these years when I see anything Pokémon related, then how must his family feel when they see Pokémon too? 😔
A REMINDER: if you also love Pokémon and other aspects of Asian culture such as food, boba, matcha, anime, k-pop, k-dramas, k & j beauty products, kawaii things like Sanrio and San-X characters, Nintendo, martial arts, yoga, karaoke, Buddhism, hell — even Star Wars (yes, you read that right) — you need to be better allies. Don’t think I haven’t noticed how some of you have been doing the bare minimum or nothing at all. What I get from that is that you love what our many cultures bring to the table, but not us. I no longer have room to give anyone grace. Do better.
It’s frustrating to have people literally comment on any of my past posts and tell me they hear me and are willing to learn and do better, and in turn literally post pics to celebrate Animal Crossing’s one year anniversary and bubble tea without one word about what’s going on. I want to believe people can be better, but I keep being proved wrong. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of people being performative in their activism. I’m tired of all the hate we receive for us as a whole, but the endless love and appropriation of the many entities Western culture has taken from us. Just love and support us the way you love Pokémon, dammit.
PS: Sources to help support the AAPI community can be found here. Please donate if you can, and if not please share.
PPS: In case you’re wondering, BlackMilk Clothing Pokémon dress can be found here and here.