{#npm: 14 – witness}

Prior to now, I haven’t made an antiracist statement on any of my social media, nor did I put anything here on the blog. Candidly, it felt disingenuous from me, a little “hop on the zeitgeist bandwagon,” in a sense. I mean, did I really need to make an official statement? I would hope my life would speak in such a way that you’d be able to tell whether or not I’d spit on someone for their ethnicity of all things! But you know what? Maybe. Not. You don’t know me, nor do we truly know anyone through their social persona. Staying silent is easily misinterpreted, ergo: Both the historical and the recently reported spate of violence – physical or psychological – against people of AAPI ancestry is deeply wrong, and intolerable, and will never come to pass without criticism or response anywhere I take notice and have the ability to deflect, push back, or speak against it. NEVER.

People catch us off guard; people whose lives we thought were …”normal,” or at least whom we believed held “normal” views on equality and egalitarianism. Hearing them engage in offhand, casual xenophobia will always be like licking a battery; an unpleasant jolt. In aggrieved shock, our impulse is to open our hands and fling the offending thing away. I’ve wanted to fling away friendships, but, fearing that I’m being intolerant, I’ve found myself outlining why that statement or this action is a microaggression, bigoted, intolerant, ignorant, unjust… But, just how much does one explain? How much ignorance, innocence do we ascribe to grown adults? Bias is implicit, baked in. It’s America’s busiest industry; our largest export. But there’s this… idealism that persists, that people should know that we’re all just… human, and not make nasty assumptions or sly inferences. My child-heart just keeps on hoping that the “average” person is really me, that most of us are like people I know, that is, good people. But…no. No. Such shock, these xenophobic interactions bring me, they leave me asking, Do I really know any of you at all?

Did you hear Kwame Alexander’s beautiful community-sourced poem against hate the other day on Morning Edition? In honor of that poem, and in honor of my Asian family, colleagues, friends and even strangers who share my neighborhood and this world, my heart is a sanctuary on offer. Come in. Share this house.

come to the table
here is a sanctuary
come name yourself kin.

come, bringing pickle
milk bread, stuffed dumplings, sharing
communal plenty

come bearing heartbreak:
break bread. bear witness. wrap wounds.
cry out. be consoled

come, sate your senses
brim with such bounty – feasting,
too full for sadness

come – you belong here
succor and sanctuary
wait. come, take your place