To the “Friends” Who Never Reached Out to Me in the Aftermath of the Atlanta Mass Shooting
I never thought that the aftermath of the Atlanta Mass Shooting would leave me with lifelong scars, fear, and paranoia.
It felt like I was constantly being stalked and observed by the outside world, yet no one was there to comfort me. As more hate crimes plagued the community, I felt more and more alone as those who I thought had cared about me never even checked in to ask if I was okay. The same people were silent about the rise in anti-Asian violence but took to their social media pages to display performative allyship during the height of BLM in the summer of 2020.
These were my closest friends who also happened to heavily fetishize aspects of Asian cultures and continuously rave about a new anime show on their private stories and spam accounts. However, I never saw or heard anything about their concern for violence against the Asian community.
They knew what they were doing and could not admit to their plain ignorance. Oh, what a privilege it is to profit off cultures and act as though you’re not contributing to the problem. Having now distanced myself from them, I realize the toxicity of these subcultures based on fetishization. It bothered me every time I saw someone using our existence as an aesthetic. We grew up doing things that got us bullied and harassed, whereas now everything is a trend.
Each time they posted about craving dim sum or sushi or made comments about infantilizing Asian women, it slowly deteriorated my soul. These so-called friends never addressed the Sinophobic tropes regarding the virus, which continued to pit people against us. I waited months and months for them to at least ask how I was doing or voice their support for the Stop Asian Hate movement, but by the time the commotion had died down, they still had nothing to say. By the end of April, I was a complete wreck, refusing to go outside, staying in bed, and struggling in academics. Many acquaintances and people who have never even spoken to me had reached out to me, but I clung to the hope that my best friends would do the same. I was wrong.
My optimism and trust blinded me from healing. Coming face to face with the people who have wronged me was tricky. It took me a year to come to terms with the absolute garbage I had to endure. As I’ve become more informed, vocal and empowered, I now understand the importance of never compromising your values and personhood for the sake of an ingenuine friendship. To the friends who never really cared about me and my fight for justice, I hope you learn about your ignorance someday.
Have you ever struggled to confront friends or family about their “subtle” racist behaviour and fetishization? Let us know in the comments!