Ed. Note: This piece was written by Dr. Wei in early April, while the U.S. was still reeling from the mass shooting of eight people in Atlanta spas and massage businesses, six of whom were Asian women.
Explore This IssueMay 2021
Words can’t describe my emotions as I pulled up to the curb at Orlando International Airport yesterday and saw my father and stepmother (ages 77 and 73) sitting on a bench waiting for me. My parents arrived here to stay for the month of April. It’s been 17 months since I last saw them, and so much has happened in the last few weeks..
I greeted my father enthusiastically as I helped him put his carry-on luggage in the trunk of my car. My frail, too-thin stepmother stood with a cane and waited patiently at the curb. It’s always been awkward to hug Asian parents, both my own and those of my friends. Growing up, we just don’t hug. I hugged her anyway.
As I held her severely osteoporotic, thin frame, a massive lump (globus sensation) filled my throat, and I held back my tears. I was afraid I’d break her if I squeezed. But thanks to my emotional state, brought on by the events of the past few weeks, in my mind my stepmother was also the 65-year-old Filipino woman who was kicked in the head repeatedly in New York City while a security guard watched and turned his back on her. She was also the 70-year-old Chinese woman attacked in San Francisco who courageously fought back. I hugged them all.
Words also can’t describe my intense feelings over the past 14 days. After juggling busy clinics and ORs, solving countless system challenges, facing decreased resources against returning clinic volume and low division morale after two rounds of reduction in force and more resignations, and dealing with my own physical and emotional pain, I come home to my family and try to catch up on current events. The news recap shows horrific violence and a seemingly endless list of mass shootings and incredibly misplaced anger at Asians and Asian Americans over COVID-19.
The March mass shooting at Atlanta area day spas was an awful example of a long history of dehumanizing Asian women, but it was just another of the more than 2,800 hate incidents that have occurred across the U.S. since March 2020.
The March mass shooting at Atlanta area day spas was an awful example of a long history of dehumanizing Asian women, but it was just another of the more than 2,800 hate incidents that have occurred across the U.S. since March 2020. Most people are unaware of the other cases simply because they received little or no media attention.
For the next 30 days, here at home, my parents will be safe. I will make sure they won’t experience anti-Asian violence. I’ll take them out to eat at a few restaurants that have their favorite cuisine, and I’ll cook everything they love. We will shop, and I’ll spoil them however I can, despite their frugal nature. They will protest the expense. We will sit and enjoy tea in the beautiful scenery of my backyard and take slow walks.