An Open Letter From An Asian-American Female Athlete

Words can’t even begin to describe how I feel, but I have to try. Please be advised that there is sensitive material ahead that could be triggering for some.

Photo by Andrew Dunstan on Unsplash

It seems like everywhere you look right now there’s a new story.

If you’re looking for a light read, that’s not what you’re about to get. There are three stories that have been leading to paranoia, sadness, frustration, and my inability to concentrate, and I’m about to describe them in detail.

She Was Just Walking Home

Sarah Everard disappeared walking home on March 3rd. She took all of the precautions I normally take — keys in hand, shoes she can run in, aware of her surroundings, called her boyfriend, walked down a well-lit street. She never made it home.

Since I was 7 years old, I have had to think about what I would do in a situation like that. I have thought about every situation that could possibly happen. I’ve googled the tricks to escape from tape, ropes, and handcuffs. I’ve lifted to get stronger to protect myself against someone attacking me. I’ve played hundreds of scenarios that could happen. I have planned my escape route if a shooting were to go down.

Some may call it crazy. I call it necessary.

Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, Soon C. Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, and Yong A. Yue may their souls rest in peace.

The eight names above are the eight people who were killed in the Atlanta shooting — 6 of them being Asian-American women.

This happened on March 16th.

But over the past year, hate crimes against AAPI across major cities in the “United” States of America have increased 150%.

The fact that Cherokee County sheriff’s Capt. Jay Baker said that the murderer was having a “bad day” goes to show the lack of accountability we have here in the States.

I have bad days. I have had some fucking terrible days both mentally and physically, yet I decided to cry and contemplate my own death rather than someone else's.

Instead of calling it a “bad day”, call it what it actually is.

An Act of Domestic Terrorism. A Hate Crime.

I’m so pissed off. I’m disgusted. I’m on the verge of tears anytime I think about what has been happening to the AAPI community.

For those that don’t know me, I’m half white and half Filipino. I only talk to one person on my “white” side, and the rest of my family is Asian, which is why I primarily identify with my Filipino side.

My grandfather joined the US Navy the day my mother was born in a small, for a lack-of-a-better-term “shack”. Just like hundreds of thousands of other immigrants that came to the US, my grandfather came here with his family in hopes of a better life and more opportunities.

It’s what Columbus did too except we didn’t steal land or people. We just wanted to be a part of the American Dream. That’s it.

When I hear of a new attack on an AAPI, I can’t help but feel like it’s my family being attacked. I see their faces, and I see my family in them. I see the pain their families experience, and I can’t help but think…

“My family could be next.”

Because they could be. And that’s a terrifying thought.

Injustice Comes in Threes

Although this next topic doesn’t involve deaths, it does involve inequities against women in sports, and it occurred yesterday, March 18th. If you have yet to see the pictures of the disparities between the men’s and women’s March Madness weight room set up and swag bags, you can see it here.

I don’t even have to explain this picture.
… or this one.

I’m appalled.

As a former 4-year, NCAA Division 1 Women’s Athlete, I feel disrespected on so many levels. I can’t even begin to imagine how the women in the March Madness tournament feel.

6 sets of DBs that don’t go over 30lb for an entire team…? I lifted 30lb IN HIGH SCHOOL not to mention 50lb DBs for reps in college. Also, I could have made a better t-shirt for the women on Canva. And one singular tampon?? I’d much rather have NASA provide me with those.

The apology was a slap in the face too saying the amenities provided were due to a “lack of space”, but after seeing the pictures and videos, it’s very evident that that is not the case.

Many of the comments that followed some of the pictures reposted about the so-called “gym” were degrading. I posted a video on tiktok in support of the female athletes going through what they are in the March Madness Bubble and was met with tons of disrespect and hate. Some examples:

“Y’all really love to complain huh stop b**ching and work with what you got” courtesy of @ welovesports00

“Because literally no one gives a sh*t about the woman’s tournament” courtesy of @ car_nerd34

“No one watches the women’s tourney I do not enjoy watching broke jumpers and just sh*tty basketball” courtesy of @ chace.anthony

We are constantly told that we aren’t “good”, that “no one wants to watch us”, and that we should be “grateful”.

I can tell you that we are grateful, but we also demand more. We demand equality in sports. We demand our voices be heard, and we won’t stop until that happens.

Although we have been treated poorly and disrespected time and time again, we will never stop the fight.

With that being said,

My identity is under attack.

My womanhood. My culture. My love for sports.

I feel like my voice doesn't matter.

I feel statistically insignificant.

But I have hope. In every way, we will continue to move forward. We will continue to fight for the safety of our friends and families, for equality, and for a seat at the table.

These may be dark times, but change will come.

Former Professional Hockey Player & Captain of Boston U’s NCAA DI Women’s Ice Hockey. Working to empower the next generation of female athletes.

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