Ask Amy: Asian American victim of hate crime fears leaving home
Dear Amy: My wife and I are both retired Asian-American professionals. Several months ago, a homeless man at a famous street market approached my wife and spat hot coffee in her face.
The person also harassed a Korean tourist and a Lao flower vendor.
My wife called the police and they identified the man. He has a past record and is mentally unbalanced. He has not been arrested even though he has a history of inappropriate public activities and harassment.
My problem is that now my wife is afraid to go out in public without me. Other Asian women have been randomly attacked in our city.
She’s gotten to the point where she worries about me when I run errands. Since we’re just coming out of our COVID caves, I have to find a way to make her feel safe without arming her.
Also, I’m afraid that if someone attacks us, I’m actually harming that mentally ill person, and I’ll be the one who gets sent to jail.
Dear Anonymous: The history of hate crimes against Asian Americans is long and heartbreaking.
Quoting a recent article published by PBS, “There are 22.9 million Asian Americans and 1.6 million Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders across the United States. American history is marked by anti-Asian exclusion, discrimination and prejudice, especially in difficult economic times or during other times of great turmoil.
A recent survey suggested that as many as 1 in 6 Asians have been the target of hate crimes, representing a dramatic increase in attacks during the pandemic.
I believe the answer – to your safety and sense of well-being – lies in solidarity, activism and empowerment.
The COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, passed last year, aims to empower communities to combat anti-Asian hate crimes.
The Stop AAPI Hate Organization (stopaapihate.org) offers helpful safety tips on its website.
The Asian Mental Health Collective has a database of therapists who might work with your wife (Asianmhc.org).
I also suggest contacting your local community center and seeing if there are any self-defense classes or other groups your wife could join to experience community and togetherness. See if a group of women could come to your house to visit her, to make her feel safer, and to encourage her to go out in groups.
I also suggest that you do your best to advocate with the police and through the media to demonstrate the steps they are taking to help your community.
Dear Amy: I am in a very delicate situation and I want to handle it with grace, dignity and love. I can’t find the right words to express to people how I feel right now.
Let me try to explain. I am dying of cancer. My family and closest friends know it. But I also have a birthday coming up soon.
Everyone wants to celebrate this “milestone” birthday with a party and gifts.
I’m happy to spend this time with the people I love and care about, and to share time with those loved ones, but the gifting part of this “celebration” makes me extremely uncomfortable.
I have between four months and a year left (according to my doctor) and I would much rather see that money put to good use after I die.
Is there anything I can say to express my gratitude for the idea of gifts, without actually receiving them? How do I make sure they know what my wishes are, without being or appearing ungrateful or just plain rude to these truly wonderful, caring people in my life?
– Grateful, but unnecessary
Dear Grateful: You are already handling your burden with abundant grace, through this expression of concern for the feelings of others. I admire that.
One way around the gift problem is to give guests a specific request and a small task to complete: “Please don’t bring any material gifts to this celebration, but if you can, write a paragraph or two on a memory we shared.”
You can also ask people to donate to your favorite charity in your honor.
It will be much easier if you have a friend or family member helping you.
I wish you the best.
Dear Amy: I’ve been seeing the term “gaslight” all over the place lately. What are they talking about?
Dear Confused: “Gaslighting” refers to a person or entity causing another person to question their own reality. In the context most often seen here, one partner convinces another that his suspicions of infidelity (for example) are the result of irrational jealousy.
You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, PO Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.
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