There’s a huge difference between the way second-generation or younger Asian Americans think about race and the way Asian immigrants think about race. Many younger Asian Americans are very sensitive to anti-Blackness in the Asian community, and about policing. With older Asian immigrants, these crimes may reaffirm their anti-Blackness and drive them toward the right.
The act of violence itself is wrong. You cannot excuse it. I think many Asian Americans have never talked about it, and so white people still don’t believe that Asian Americans face racism. Because we’re invisible, the racism against us has also been invisible. This is why it’s important that people are speaking up to show: “Actually, this has been happening, and there’s been a spike. But at the same time, this has been going on for a long time. We just haven’t really talked about it. And now we’re talking about it, and you have to pay attention.”
I wish that future novelists would reject the pressure to write for the betterment of society. Art is not media. A novel is not an “afternoon special” or fodder for the Twittersphere or material for journalists to make neat generalizations about culture. A novel is not BuzzFeed or NPR or Instagram or even Hollywood. Let’s get clear about that. A novel is a literary work of art meant to expand consciousness. We need novels that live in an amoral universe, past the political agenda described on social media. We have imaginations for a reason. Novels like American Psycho and Lolita did not poison culture. Murderous corporations and exploitive industries did. We need characters in novels to be free to range into the dark and wrong. How else will we understand ourselves?
∆ Ottessa Moshfegh
Now, feeling empathy, and expressing empathy, are two different things. As a nurse, I’m a big believer in expressing empathy. Empathy really should be an active word, like “love.” Real love isn’t the tingles you feel in your belly when you think of your person. Real love is holding your person’s hand through the birth of a child, through receiving a cancer diagnosis, and during the chemotherapy that followed. Empathy is the same. If empathy is only a buzzword that flits through your head, and you don’t allow it to bring forth your helpful actions and thoughtful words, it’s not much good, is it?
In Failing Forward by John C. Maxwell, the author explains the value of actively learning from mistakes. How, whenever something doesn’t go as planned, you should write down what happened (ie. the failure or shortcoming), what you learned from it, and how you can do things better next time. Especially if you’ve made the same mistake two or more times as it means you haven’t learned from it yet.