Dorotea Mendoza, a writer, community organizer, and Zen practitioner, delivered the following address at the New York protest LOVE WALK: A Call for Action and Solidarity with Asian / Asian American communities on April 11, 2021.
I am an indigenous, immigrant woman from the Philippines. As such I always carry with me the sense of forever being a foreigner, the sense of forever not belonging, the sense of forever not having the rights, the entitlements, the access to resources in this land. I am grateful to those who’ve worked and continue to work on undoing that mindset, on decolonizing that thinking, that mind. For me and many others, this is a daily reality—undoing, decolonizing, stepping through with the dignity of our lived experience, as Asians, as Asian Americans, as Pacific Islanders. I am grateful for the communities that lean on one another in this continuous undoing, decolonizing, and stepping through.
The anti-Asian violence we’re facing today is nothing new. It’s decades old, centuries old. From the murder of Vincent Chin to the rounding up of Japanese Americans into Japanese Americans into concentration camps to the Chinese Exclusion Act. And then there’s the US-sponsored violence perpetrated outside of the US. Racist, patriarchal, and economic violence that has ravished nations, giving rise to populations needing to get out and migrate.
This past Thursday, I was at the City Hall station waiting for the uptown R train. It was 10:27 in the morning. I knew the time because I kept looking at my watch because I was running late. I was standing on the platform. A woman was walking back and forth in front of me. Agitated. Then she stopped about ten feet away and started yelling, “Are you scared? Are you scared?” She goes to an advertisement billboard and starts punching it. Then she yells again, “Are you scared? You little fucking chink bitch.” I wanted to say, oh, but I’m Filipino, please get your racism right. And I did see that that’s exactly what racism is, what a bias is—it’s profound blindness and ignorance. Also that it comes from a profound sense of isolation, a profound sense of disempowerment, a profound sense of alienation. So, as we walk in community today, calling in love and compassion with every step, I am with you in turning and facing the socio-economic conditions, the societal conditions that lead to an alienation, to a hatred so profound that one human being can slash, beat up, kill another human being. Let’s uproot these conditions, these root causes. In solidarity. With compassion. With discernment. May it be so.