A note from Talking Taiwan host Felicia Lin:
Since the beginning of the pandemic I’d been hearing about more and more cases of Asian hate attacks that seemed to be related to blaming the Chinese for spreading COVID. It’s been a year so you could say that I’m kind of late to the game in addressing it here.
Perhaps it’s because there wasn’t a single galvanizing event like the murder of George Floyd that mobilized the Black Lives Matter movement.
So why now? It wasn’t because of the Atlanta spa shootings that left 8 dead, 6 of whom were Asian women. It was due to a text conversation between friends.
In early March, my friend Ariane reached out to me on a group text conversation expressing how troubled she was about all the attacks on Asians and wondering what she could do stop it.
Last summer I’d found myself asking similar questions after the murder of George Floyd which is why I specifically sought guests who could talk about Black Lives Matter and what had led up to this latest iteration of the movement and the deeply rooted historical background. I realized that we all need to speak up when we see things like this happening and to let others know that it will not be tolerated. We need to create more awareness with whatever resources and platforms we have.
Now it’s time for me to walk the talk on the issue of Anti-Asian hate attacks by addressing it here on Talking Taiwan.
I don’t think what’s been happening is strictly a COVID-related issue that is going to go away. Actually, anti-Asian sentiments have been around and have surfaced and resurfaced in many different forms in the past. This will be the first of a few episodes about Asian hate.
For this episode I’ve invited Suelain Moy and her son Otter on to the podcast to talk about how they recently dealt with being the target of Asian hate.
About Suelain Moy
Suelain Moy is a New York City mother, writer, journalist, author, and editor. Her writing has appeared in many outlets, including Parenting, American Baby, Entertainment Weekly, aMagazine, Good Housekeeping, The Fiscal Times, and the New York Daily News. She is the author of Names to Grow On: Choosing A Name Your Baby Will Love. She graduated from Yale, where she earned a BA in English and studied with bell hooks. Suelain was the first Asian face in the Children’s Division of Ford Models. She comes from a long line of merchants, small business owners, teachers, and law enforcement officers in the Chinatown community, where her family has lived for generations since 1922. She wrote “The 16 Safety Guidelines for the Parents of Asian Children” in 2021, during a wave of anti-Asian violence and hate crimes in the U.S. They are based on her experiences with racism and misogyny on the streets of New York. You can read her personal essays, including the safety guidelines, at suelain.com.
About Otter Lee
Otter Lee is a queer actor, comedian, writer, and voiceover artist born and raised in New York City. He currently plays Otter Lin on Stephen Colbert Presents: Tooning Out the News, a political cartoon on Paramount+ that airs as part of The Late Show. His standup, sketch, and improv have appeared at such venues as Buzzfeed, UCB, Face-Off Unlimited, Caveat, Union Hall, The Magnet, and The Asian American Writer’s Workshop. Otter co-produced, hosted, and took the stage for NYC’s First Asian Comedy Festival at the PIT in January 2020, selling out multiple blocks and empowering numerous comedians and groups. He followed this with Crazy Talented Asians and Friends, a virtual showcase at Flushing Town Hall. A graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a degree in acting, playwriting, and history, Otter also trained extensively in the disciplines of classical and musical theatre, improv, and voice acting. Otter’s performances and projects have been written up and featured in The New York Times, Time Out New York, AsianCrush, and World Journal.
Here’s a little preview of what we talked about in this podcast episode:
- Suelain and Otter’s account of an Asian hate crime incident that happened to them while in New York City’s SoHo district in February of this year
- How and why Suelain and Otter reacted to their harasser the way that they did
- How Suelain and Otter’s past experiences with hate crimes has prepared them to react
- The bystanders who stopped check on Suelain and Otter and offered to help
- How the incident was the second Asian hate speech incident in a week that happened to Otter
- The strategies that Suelain’s father suggested to protect her when she had to ride the New York City subway alone after commuting to school in Manhattan from Long Island
- How Suelain learned to protect herself on the New York City subway
- What Suelain wants to share with parents and others about how they can handle incidents Asian hate speech or crimes
- What defines something as a hate crime
- What defines something as Asian hate speech vs. an Asian hate crime
- How a lot of incidents seem to happen when people are standing on the corner
- How parents need to talk to their kids about a safety plan
- What bystanders can to if they witness someone being attacked
- How Asian hate speech and crimes are sometimes not taken seriously due to the model minority myth
- How Suelain once turned the tables on a man who sexually harassed her
- How summoning your middle-aged indignation or “Mommy shaming” can be strategies to deal with harassers
- What reactions and press Suelain and Otter have gotten since sharing what happened to them on social media
- The segment on Stephen Colbert Presents “Tooning Out The News” in which Otter talks about the incident that happened to him and his mother
- The media coverage that Suelain and Otter have gotten
- How Asian hate incidents transcend race, social class
- How Suelain’s list of safety guidelines has grown from 12 to 16 items, and has been translated into Chinese and distributed in schools
- How the New York City website for Asian hate crimes does not clearly indicate where you can report a crime
- The under reporting of Asian hate crimes
- How Asians are easy targets because they are visible minorities
- How the majority of Chinatown’s residents have been wearing masks since the beginning of the pandemic but they are being blamed for the spread of COVID
Suelain Moy’s blog: https://suelain.com/
Suelain on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/suelain
Suelain on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/suelain_moy/
Suelain on Twitter: https://twitter.com/SuelainMoy
Otter on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/otterleemoy/
Otter on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Otter.Lee
Otter on Twitter: https://twitter.com/OtterLeeMoy
Lee Statsberg sense memory acting technique: https://strasberg.edu/blog/breaking-down-lees-work-with-david-lee-strasberg/
Woman Who Fought Back During Attack to Donate Nearly $1M Raised for Her to Combat Anti-Asian Racism: https://people.com/crime/xiao-zhen-xie-fought-back-alleged-attacker-donate-1-million-raised-combat-anti-asian-racism/?fbclid=IwAR3IgKr6JpP_Myw001DuoIILDSdVEJeHFSLWXnXrSB80DGzgmbuNy_FV-4w
Author Min Jin Lee: https://www.minjinlee.com/
Otter’s segment on Stephen Colbert Presents “Tooning Out The News”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iaHM699cT20&t=260s
(Otter’s segment is at 4:25)
Crazy Talented Asians and Friends: Triumphing Over Quarantine: https://flushingtownhall.org/crazy-talented-asians-friends-live-comedy
Asian Comedy Festival 2021: https://asiancomedyfest.com/
New York City’s Toolkit for Addressing Anti-Asian Bias, Discrimination, and Hate: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/cchr/community/stop-asian-hate.page
The Analysis of Anti‐Asian Hate Crime Reported to Police in America’s Largest Cities: 2020 (done by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino): https://www.csusb.edu/sites/default/files/FACT%20SHEET-%20Anti-Asian%20Hate%202020%203.2.21.pdf
Cefaan Kim’s reporting and articles: https://muckrack.com/cefaan-kim/articles
Japanese American Internment Camps: https://www.britannica.com/event/Japanese-American-internment