We Will Survive This

Audrey Sun

When I first read the headlines for the March 16th Atlanta shootings, I didn’t believe it at first. I refused to read the articles for a while, ignoring every social media post I saw, dreading the truth that lied within the words of each post, each headline, each caption. 

I’ve spent the past year reading articles about police brutality and hate crimes, disgusted and afraid, but when I read the New York Times article reporting the shootings, a fear I had never known before struck my heart. A fear that went beyond a fear for my life, a fear that was rooted in this sense of utter helplessness and powerlessness, and as someone who always tries to be in control of everything in my life, I was forced to acknowledge the fact that this was the one thing I had absolutely no control over. I started crying, both mourning the lives of innocent Americans at the hands of a racist and because of the realization that my life, and my family’s lives, were in danger. Not in danger the way anyone can be when they go somewhere new but in danger in the sense that we were now targets. All because of our skin color. All because of our race. All because we are Asian. 

That day brought an onslaught of constant reposting of social media posts describing, and sometimes even showing, violent attacks against Asian Americans. I would open Instagram or Tik Tok and be forced to look at a picture of an Asian American bloody, bruised, and battered; I was forced to see what could be in store for me. Seeing these attacks every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, weighs heavily in my heart; I’m sick to my stomach every single time. 

Every graphic image or video of an elderly Asian American being attacked makes me think of my grandma, who lives alone, being attacked when she goes out to the grocery store. And my grandma loves going to the grocery store—the other week she called me and said excitedly, “I’m going to the grocery store for the first time since quarantine!” She was fully vaccinated; healthwise, it was perfectly safe because the threat to her life from COVID was more diminished than ever. But the threat to her life from racists was at an all time high. And unfortunately, we are living in a time where there are violent racists everywhere, even in New Jersey.

But what are we supposed to do? Let this constant fear of ignorant racists take over our lives and stop us from enjoying our lives, preventing us from performing basic, necessary tasks like buying groceries?

A part of me says yes, and that part of me has around 2800 reported instances of racially charged hate instances from 2020 alone (not including the attacks leading up to, including, and following the Atlanta shootings) to back me up. When my grandma told me she was going to the grocery store, I wanted to beg her not to, but I restrained myself. My family has never been one to live in fear, to let worry consume our everyday lives. We would survive this. That is what I tell myself everyday when I check the news and see another report of an attack on an Asian American who always reminds me of some member of my family and I struggle to think rationally: we will survive this. That is what I tell myself when I wake from another nightmare of my family being attacked: we will survive this. 

But just because I say this doesn’t make it true. It doesn’t stop the constant stressing and worrying and overall fear—it doesn’t stop me from preparing myself and my family in case I am attacked while I am away from my house, having fun with my friends or even just running errands because I am all too aware that any time I leave my house could be the very last time.

This reflection is not political, it’s not asking anyone for anything or making any demands. All too often when those posts are made, people dismiss their stories and the narrative they tell as fake news or as “wrong” or as propaganda. But no matter how badly people want to ignore this increase in Asian American hate attacks, my reflection cannot be twisted as fake news or as wrong or as propaganda. This is a truth that cannot be denied because this is my story, this is the life that I am living through right now. And I will survive this.