Dear Andrew Yang,
First off, I am one of your supporters and have been Yang Gang for some time now, and those things are not changing any time soon. But this article was a pretty big gaffe. I love you, Andrew, but you misfired here.
In terms of what you wrote, I know what you meant. You meant that in this COVID-19 crisis we Asian Americans can be part of the solution and should do so with every resource at our disposal. Many of us are highly educated and specifically trained to be of great help in this kind of situation. I got it.
You also meant that we should all understand that the main driver of this racism is mostly fear of the virus and not necessarily hatred against Asians per se. So if Asian Americans all focus on combating the virus instead of responding in kind, that would be the quickest and most expedient way to deal with this current rash of racial violence against us.
The problem is that A) this is NOT how it came off. How it sounded is actually quite damaging and hurtful to the Asian community. I know that is harsh, but wounds from a friend can be trusted, and I really am a friend. This comes off as saying that the answer to the recent surge of violent racism against Asians is by getting all of us Asians to work harder at fighting this virus so as to prove our Americanness and value to the country. I’m sure you can see the problem with that. Asian Americans (or any American minority) shouldn’t have to prove our “Americanness” or justify our existence to anyone, especially during this current crisis that our whole country is facing.
And B) even if everyone understood what you actually meant, what you meant is still problematic. You are essentially asking for unity between us Asian Americans and the rest of America, where everyone has to do their part to fight this existential threat to our way(s) of life. The problem, and it’s a big one, is that you basically are asking Asian Americans to grin and bear the brunt of this violence. And instead of us fighting back, protecting ourselves, or otherwise addressing it directly, you are asking us to simply keep our heads down and work harder in solidarity with everyone else who is working hard.
The problem is that there can be no unity with racists until the racism is properly addressed. It’s hard to work in solidarity with someone who wants to either kill you or violently drive you away from their presence as if you were the personification of the virus itself.
I understand that this is not the time to be bickering about things other than the COVID-19 situation that is killing thousands of people a day. But asking Asians to be part of the solution here is like blaming women for wearing the wrong clothing after being assaulted. Just imagine if there were a huge spike in sexual assaults all across the country during this crisis and telling the victims, The best way you can address this terrible situation is by keeping your head down, focusing on your contributions to the “war,” and, oh, by the way, dressing more conservatively if you can.
I’m going to hold out hope that the WaPo edited your piece so that things didn’t come out the way that you wanted. If that wasn’t the case, then I’m going to hold out hope that this was just a misfire in your otherwise brilliant mind.
I still support you and staunchly remain Yang Gang. Part of the reason is that you really are, to me, the opposite of Donald Trump: an Asian man who likes math. Donald Trump would cancel anyone who criticizes him. Many Bernie supporters, though not Bernie himself, tend to do the same. I’m hoping that you are what you say you are: not left, not right, but forward. There are quite a few in the Yang Gang who are criticizing you right now over this. Be different from the examples I gave above, lest I, and many others who have supported you, once again find ourselves socio-politically homeless once again.
Your staunch supporter and Yang Gang member,