Since the Election, I Can't Stop Worrying About My Parents

I am afraid that any racism they've experienced will escalate; that their Chinese faces and accented English will make them "fair game."
Publish date:
November 12, 2016
parents, fear, hope, election, Asian Americans

I didn't want to write this week.

I have too much to say, but I'm also at a complete loss.

All I've wanted to do this week is wallow in my anger, let it consume me, lick my wounds with venom so I hurt enough to never feel complacent. In the immediate aftermath of the election, I wanted to hurt. For me, it felt right to hurt.

My thoughts have been circling endlessly around my parents. I am afraid for them. I am afraid that any racism they've experienced in the 30-some years they've lived in America will escalate; that their Chinese faces and accented English will make them "fair game."

I'm afraid that the ugliest of the trolls who've threatened me over the years — wishing me harm, my husband harm for being with me, telling me they know where I live, telling me why as a Chinese-American woman I'm the worst, using Bible quotes as ammunition against me — will somehow connect me to my parents and go after them. I don't get nearly as much filth as many of my fellow Internet-writers (which is a miserable statement to make), but I still keep a file of horribleness on my computer, just in case I need any of those emails or messages as proof one day.

I talked to my parents after Hillary's concession speech, asked them to be careful. My mom said, "I'm almost 80... after 30-some years in this country, this is where we are. I've watch so much progress, now this. Racism has always been a part of my life, I've lived through it, I guess there's no end in sight."

My dad, who is usually quick with a laugh even in the darkest times, just said quietly, "I'm so disappointed. I can't believe this is what our country wants."

The first words I typed after the results of the election were, "I am horrified." I want to say that I have found a way to channel my fear and anger and frustration and disappointment and guilt into positive action, a way to get to work actively helping and protecting the rights of those in the most immediate danger. I want to be clear-headed, I want to be bigger than the sadness and guilt that is darkening my spirit right now, but I'm not. Not yet.

I meant for this to be a bright, hopeful post. I started writing it with the title "Where I Found Hope This Week." I was going to tell you what gave me a respite from anger.

I was going to tell you that amidst the anger and fear I found comfort at a friend's wedding. I'm actually writing this from a hotel room in Arizona right now.

I was going to tell you how, even during a week such as this, especially in a week such as this, I felt so lucky to be in America with my friends and family, comforting each other.

I was going to tell you how special it was to sit in the Astro Diner and eat eggs and cry with my friend Ivy; how in one night we went from such joy to such despair thinking of our immigrant parents.

I was going to tell you how it precious it was to be able to surprise my friend Beth, hold each other tight, and sit in her living room like teenagers, and feel the fierceness of the love we have for each other.

I was going to tell you how getting to say, "Goodnight, I love you," to my friend Joy (who is snoozing in the other bed) felt like such a privilege.

I was going to tell you how after spending so much of this week paralyzed by anxiety, crying all over all my shirts, it felt like a moment of magic to walk into my friend's wedding festivities and be surrounded by so much love, a tidal wave of rejoicing.

And I did find hope this week. I didn't think I would, but I did. There are beautiful people out there, and I get to have some of them in my life.

But that hope felt on loan. It kept slipping out of my grasp.

I can't stop fearing for the future, I can't stop worrying about the next steps.

But most of all, I can't stop thinking about my parents and the America I might not be able to protect them from.