Public Harassment: I am Southeast Asian…

I am Southeast Asian, and am usually perceived as East Asian. I was standing along a street with a White male friend and his Chinese girlfriend waiting for an Uber. A man walked up to my male friend and said to him, “They’re cheap. They’re from China.” As he started to walk away, I challenged him to come back and say it again to my face; he ignored me and kept walking, and I did not want to leave my friends to confront him. We were shocked, and I was very angry. This was already after an incident earlier that same day when another male passerby saw me and my friend’s girlfriend flanking him while we walked and gave my friend a lascivious wink and said, “Ohhhh, that’s a great arrangement” while pointing to me and the other woman.

Top it off with frequent microaggressions that make me feel objectified as an Asian female, just walking around my work neighborhood. I get “Konichiwa!”, “Ni hao”, “How are you doing, baby”, and other choice lines. I ignore them, but they do irritate me. It’s a rough neighborhood, so I choose not to engage, but I am often very tempted to ask them what such racially and sexually disrespectful remarks are intended to achieve for them personally.

It’s hard to walk through this country feeling safe as female and POC.