All The Beautiful Things: Episode 1
Y’all remember my find the beauty in everything motto I told you about last week, right? Well, last night I found plenty of it. The Boise Valley JACL (Japanese American Citizens League) hosted a vigil for the Asian American hate crime victims brutally murdered by a white male domestic terrorist in Atlanta last week.
And they chose the perfect location, the Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial. Background for those of you not from Idaho, Asian Americans make up less than 2% of the population, so an event like this is significant in more ways than one. This location was a physical reminder that racism and race-based violence aren’t just political issues; they are human rights issues.
Being Asian American
As an Asian American woman living in rural America, the last year has been challenging. Never mind the pandemic. I’ve struggled to process the uneducated race-based hatred and bile that have spewed out of people I once liked and respected; people I once called colleagues, customers, neighbors, and friends. So the long-repressed feelings that have come to the surface have been building long before the tragic events of last week. And loyal readers know my rule about “feeling the feelings.”
Over the last week, I’ve spent hours doing things I never dreamed I’d be doing in my own country. I’ve connected with my Asian American friends and family to make sure they’re okay, weep and rage together, and review basic safety precautions.
And I’ve publicly shared my personal experiences as an Asian American woman only to be told that they are nothing more than a propaganda tactic or dismissed as unimportant. Even the spiritual community that normally espouses shadow work has fallen into its white-centric default “don’t be negative” spiel, which effectively translates as “we don’t want to hear it.” It’s been rough. It’s been ugly. It’s been fugly ugly.
I don’t know why it was easier to share my grief story than talk about my personal experiences with system racism, but it makes me feel far more exposed. Maybe because writing about widowhood never put me at risk of physical danger. Maybe because the grief trolls (yeah, they exist) were far less angry and potentially violent. Who knows. But I haven’t lost sight of the fact that those who supported my honesty far outnumbered the haters. (I love you, you beautiful souls!)
But last night, I had a lot of help finding the beauty that surrounds me. I was reminded that Boise is more than the increasingly extremist IDLEG (Idaho Legislature) or hateful social media bullies. And even if I didn’t see a single person I knew last night, beautiful souls who wanted to honor the lost, show solidarity with their fellow humans, and make a public stand against hatred restored my faith in my little community.
As we sat there in the cold and wind, I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes, “If you light a lamp for someone else, it will also brighten your path.” (Incorrectly attributed to the Buddha, but that’s a conversation for another day.) You guys, that’s the beautiful thing! We shared our light and our love just by being there! And in doing so, we brought brightness and beauty to the ugly darkness that threatens our community and our country.
So there you have it, my first episode of All the Beautiful Things. Thank you, Boise, for reminding me why this is home.
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
P.S. I’d like to publicly thank a few Boise shining lights who’ve helped me navigate the last week.
Tanesha Jae Newton, thank you for holding space for a total stranger late one night as I worked through my disbelief, pain, and rage. Thank you for being so brave in fighting this fight. You are a badass warrior queen.
Will Heatter, thank you for your loving solidarity and for sharing your AAPI story with me. Thank you for reminding me to spread the light.
And to all my peeps who reached out in solidarity and allyship to make sure my family and I are okay, I see you. I appreciate you. I love you.