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Photo provided by Baylee DeMuth.

Between the Lines: Being an Asian adoptee amidst anti-Asian violence

A week or so ago, I read an article about being an Asian adoptee amidst the spike in anti-Asian violence. I’ve been reading a lot of articles lately about the increase in Asian hate crimes, but none hit home quite like this one. 

To be honest, I haven’t really had any conversations about the rise in anti-Asian violence aside from the occasional “that’s really bad” or “what’s happening is terrible” comments. And I don’t blame my friends or family for not sitting down and processing how these acts of violence make me feel, but then I’m left wondering if all my fear and hurt is invalid. 

If I ever talk with friends or family about being Asian American, I always have a hard time describing where I fit in. On the outside, I am Chinese American, but on the inside, the culture and environment I was raised in doesn’t reflect that. So, like the article states, I don’t feel like I belong in either the Asian community or white America.

When I feel out of place, it makes having those conversations about issues like Asian hate difficult. Sometimes I feel like an imposter talking about the increase in hate toward Asian Americans because I myself don’t feel “Asian enough” to have any opinions on it.

But because of the way I’m perceived on the outside, I still experience racism just like the rest of the Asian community, especially as the coronavirus began to plague the United States in early 2020. Sometimes I’d be at the grocery store and people would avoid going down the same aisles as me, or I’d be flashed a glare in the checkout line. Last summer, someone I worked with told me I needed to “get the virus under control.”

It’s not new to me that people would treat me differently based on the color of my skin, but it’s hard to deal with it at times, because I am American. I’ve lived all but five months of my life in the U.S., yet I still face the backlash of Asian hate solely based on my outward appearance.  

I think in the past few years I’ve become a lot more aware of how I’m treated because of my race and am more willing to speak out about it, but I also know for a long time I didn’t know how to react to the blatant racism. If my peers pulled at the corners of their eyes or asked if I used chopsticks at every meal, I just shrugged it off. I didn’t understand how they saw me any different from themselves but reflecting on those incidents now, I wish I would’ve understood how terrible those insults were.  

When the massacre of eight people, six of them being of Asian descent, happened in Atlanta, I was at a loss for words. I didn’t know who to talk to or if the feelings I had were even valid, because, again, I didn’t feel Asian enough to weigh in. But I am exactly the right amount of Asian, and I have every right to mourn the lives of those who were lost because they were part of the Asian community, just like me. 

There will always be times as an Asian adoptee where I won’t feel part of the conversation, but I know my voice, feelings and opinions matter, too. I’m extremely fortunate for the life my parents have given me, and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunities being adopted has granted me. My Asian American experience is as valid as anyone else in the Asian community, which is why I will continue to advocate for stopping Asian American and Pacific Islander hate every chance I get.

Baylee DeMuth is a senior studying journalism. Please note that the views and ideas of columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk to Baylee? Tweet her @bayleedemuth. 

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