The negative and lasting effects of gaslighting on the Asian community.
By writing these heartfelt words of truthfulness, I am paying a tribute to my parents who immigrated to France at a young age, fearful and oblivious of the countless obstacles they would have to overcome to achieve their goals.
What exactly is gaslighting? Why is it affecting the Asian community so severely?
“Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation in which a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or group, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment.” — Wikipedia.
“Why are you complaining? You have it better than most of us.”
“You should not make a fuss over what was said. Actually, I experienced much worse in the past…”
“We suffered so much in the past so you should consider yourself happy that your family did not experience what mine did.”
“You should not say anything like this because the situation is much worse for the xx community and for the xx people…”
Those are typical usages of gaslighting. In the case of Asian people, it is the systemic downplaying of their sufferings from misdemeanours and degrading comments directed at them. From such uncalled-for misconducts, their fears, their hardships, and their feelings are made seemingly exaggerated, invalid and unjustified.
Each individual, each community and each ethnic group have suffered from discrimination and injustice at some point in the course of history. Regardless of its intensity, gravity or scale, an injustice is an injustice. If the Asian community faces racially-motivated discrimination, then it must be addressed effectively, but never should it be stifled, downplayed or told off, in order to put forward another community’s suffering. The reason is simple: someone else’s suffering must never invalidate yours.
The “Model Minority” myth and internalised biases held against the Asian community.
“The term ‘model minority’ has often been used to refer to a minority group perceived as particularly successful, especially in a manner that contrasts with other minority groups. […] In particular, the model minority designation is often applied to Asian Americans, who, as a group, are often praised for apparent success across academic, economic, and cultural domains — successes typically offered in contrast to the perceived achievements of other racial groups.” — Harvard Law School.
Despite its apparent privileges, having to put up with the ‘model minority’ label could actually be more detrimental to the subject than the contrary. Because of the connotations attached to it, many people are led to believe that Asian people do not experience racism the same way other minorities would. That is downright a misconception.
At times, this myth is even used to pit people against each other.
True solidarity means one must stand up for what is deemed unfair and wrongful, racist and discriminatory. We ought not to compare whether a community has been receiving more hate or offense than another, because doing so will compel people to develop biases, and to view racially-motivated discrimination in a hierarchical manner.
“But Black people have it worse.”
“But Asian people have it better.”
“But Latino people have it as bad.”
Think about it differently — would you appreciate someone downplaying your emotional hardships because those are supposedly not as severe or painful as someone else’s? Based on which grounds? On which objective criteria? How can you effectively measure someone’s sufferings if you have not experienced it yourself? Are different experiences of sufferings even meant to be compared?
That is exactly what Asian people could feel when they are told to keep it down because “they have it better”.
But what, exactly, does it mean to have it better? Does it refer to graduating from the most prestigious school, to securing a more reputable job, to accessing a greater amount of opportunities, to buying luxury goods, or to developing more skills sets?
What I aforementioned are the typical stereotypes that surround most Asian people living as a minority in a country, whichever it is. The U.S.A, France, Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Spain and so on.
Just like other communities, our ancestors immigrated from their home country to a completely foreign one, where they faced adversity with incredible bravery and courage. They left in hopes of securing a more financially stable environment for themselves and for their offsprings. The language barrier, the financial struggles, the emotional hardships, the isolation and, most predominantly, the mean prejudices, the judgmental stares and the narrow-minded opinions they experienced and received are just some of the countless obstacles than most of our parents managed to overcome. It was a fierce battle they selflessly carried through thick and thin, for which they sacrificed their time and youth by working tirelessly for better tomorrows. I truly believe that all my friends and family members think highly of their parents and grandparents for being such combative, persevering, empowering and admirable human beings.
That hardworking, kind, selfless, quiet, discreet and respectful community will no longer keep mum and let ignorant, aggressive, disrespectful, discriminating, gaslighting people harm individuals who have done them NOTHING wrong.
We were taught to keep quiet and to let things pass, to hide our emotions and not to fight back. We were taught never to use violence to fight violence. We were taught to take a step back, to ignore the gravity of the statements we heard, the brutality of the insulting gestures we saw, and the severity of the degrading incidents we experienced.
Now, we will no longer restrain ourselves from speaking up and from denouncing the abusive behaviours that most of us have suffered from at some point in our lives.
How to support the Asian community today.
The gravity of those crimes is being downplayed to an incredibly appalling extent. We must put words on these felonies. Those are not just some unfortunate, fortuitous events, but racially-motivated and Anti-Asian hate crimes.
All this unfounded, unspeakable, and unprovoked abuse perpetrated against the Asian community all around the globe has to stop now.
It is gut-wrenching to see our elderly get attacked for simply taking a stroll in their neighbourhood. It is devastating to witness children becoming orphans overnight from losing their parents to racist murderers. It is heartbreaking to watch videos of aggressive acts of criminality committed against my peers. What more poignant and alarming is that I see no improvement over the past few months, but only a deteriorating situation with increased gratuitous hate and wickedness.
Educating people with accurate and up-to-date information would contribute to combating ignorance. Relaying the latest and correct news regarding racially-motivated hate crimes against Asians would give greater visibility to these incidents. Raising awareness around you would allow people to discover the dark side of the infamous ‘model minority’ myth. Speaking up would help fight the deeply-ingrained biases and prejudices held against the Asian community. Donating would help alleviate the distress of the victims and of their families.
Simply relaying information would do wonders, so why are the mass media keeping shut?
Everyone’s involvement is valuable. Whenever possible for you, I prompt you not to bask in silence and not to turn a blind eye to what is happening right now. Watching passively, staying silent, remaining indifferent, make you akin to a supporter of those racist perpetrators.