On St. Patty’s Day Eve, 6 Asian women and 2 others were murdered in Atlanta. This is the latest in a series of violent attacks against Asian people that have been fueled by the anti-Asian racism of our former president. He has repeatedly blamed China for COVID and uses racist terms like “Kung Flu” to perpetuate anti-Asian stereotypes.
If you have the emotional capacity today and aren’t already aware, please inform yourself and commit to taking action. Search #stopasianhate on Instagram to find 1000s of posts. Search Google. I will share resources to an Instagram story highlight in my profile called StopAsianHate. There’s no excuse to be uninformed.
For this recent violence and so many other reasons, I can’t simply share a Happy St. Patrick’s Day post today. Here are some thoughts on anti-racism as a person of Irish heritage:
My family has always celebrated St. Patty’s Day, usually with a gathering at my grandparents’ house. This is the 2nd year we have not gathered due to COVID, but many of us are still preparing Irish food for dinner, wearing green, and reflecting on our Irish roots. We will FaceTime my grandparents and drink Irish beer and listen to Irish music.
But this year I am adding a new tradition: exploring my ancestral history through a lens of anti-racism work and re-committing to anti-racism as a daily practice of learning, unlearning, and action.
I’ve always appreciated that these celebrations connected me to my heritage. But through anti-racism work, my relationship to my heritage has become complicated. As a person of European ancestry, my heritage is not always something worth celebrating.
And although I know some Irish traditions, I do not know much Irish and Irish-American history. I know there was a potato famine, that Irish people were persecuted by the English, and that Irish immigrants to the U.S. were discriminated against. But I don’t know the details, or how Irish Americans went from hated to assimilated. That history is the history of my ancestors. That history reaches us from the past and shapes our present world.
I’m grappling with many questions: How do I connect in a meaningful way with my ancestry and heritage while remaining fully aware of the injustices and genocides committed by European people? (My ancestors came from many different parts of Europe, not just Ireland.) How do I help my child connect to his heritage, while explaining that generations of Europeans and white Americans have committed injustices and violence on the world stage and in the U.S.? What are the stories from my heritage that are worth celebrating?
While I cannot know what my direct lineage of ancestors thought or did for or against injustice, I can study the history of my people, learn the devastating truths that were left out of my history textbooks, and re-commit to anti-racism as a white mom, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sibling, niece, cousin, and friend.
Anti-racism work is a lifelong commitment. The learning and growth never stops.
So while we continue our St. Patrick’s Day traditions today, it’s well past time that we start new traditions of learning the true history of our people, committing to anti-racism, and taking action to stop the racism, hate, and violence toward people of color and indigenous people.
I welcome your thoughts, critiques, and additional resources.
P.S. Here are two posts on this subject that I highly recommend. As mentioned, additional resources will be shared to my Instagram story highlight “StopAsianHate.”
- On Instagram, @kimsaira and @Annie_Wu_22 have compiled this excellent resource on how to be an ally and help Asian Americans fight anti-Asian racism.
- Also on Instagram, @badasscrossstitch shares here about the history of Irish-American assimilation in the context of anti-Asian racism in the U.S. They also recommend two books that I will be ordering today from an Asian-owned bookshop (not sure which one yet, but I will research this today and update this post soon).