I Am An Asian American Woman

A woman looks out the window, with her back against a bed.

By Guest Contributor: San-Pei Lee

I am a woman born by a woman and so many women before. I come from a legacy of womanhood, of creation from love, the reason for both women and men on Earth.

But I can’t walk in broad daylight in the streets of Los Angeles without a man peering at me with predatory eyes and remarking that he “likes him some sweet Asian”. I can’t even walk in my own birth country without a man of my own race harassing me on the subway. Was it just an accident in the crowd? But that definitely felt like groping, lingering longer than an accidental touch. No, I can’t stay out alone late at night without the fear of adding to a statistic.

Will women ever stop being blamed for and forced to experience harassment, rape, and prostitution?

I am a woman born by a woman and so many women before.

I am equal parts Asian and American. If I don’t know something in English, I’ll usually know it in Mandarin Chinese, but once in a while, my mind turns blank when I can’t think of the word in either language. When I’m in Taiwan, I miss the States so much that I eat American junk food I normally wouldn’t. When I’m in America, I spend more time in Chinatown than I do anywhere else, if only to get a feel of my grandparents’ home. I follow the news on both sides of the world, just to pretend I’m in both places at once.

My mother has always taught me to be gentle because that was how she learned to survive in her new home that saw her as an alien. Soft. Quiet. Invisible. To some I’m fake because I “act” polite. To some I’m boring because they never hear what’s actually going on in my mind. To some I’m weak because they pride themselves in taking advantage of me with their “strength”. So tell me, who is the worse person here? I’m sorry I’m not who you want me to be, that even being a model minority will never make me white. I’m sorry that I’m so used to saying sorry, even to the ones who don’t treat me right. I’m sorry I’m not sorry that I won’t change myself, and I’m going to keep doing what’s right, including bringing injustices in the dark out into the light.

If the word “racist” is so shameful, and you don’t want to be identified as one, why are you condoning it? Why are you excusing them? Why aren’t you instead recognizing the issue and working on changing hearts? On changing your own heart?

Will violence – against another gender, race, sexual orientation, species – ever end in my or any lifetime?

Will violence – against another gender, race, sexual orientation, species – ever end in my or any lifetime?

Will we realize that a world of diversity is so much more beautiful, that to embrace each other with kindness is the way to a better world for all?


San-Pei Lee

San-Pei Lee is a Taiwanese American who grew up in Texas, studied Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at Rice University, and taught high school biology in Houston for three years. San-Pei is currently furthering her research studies at National Taiwan University. In her spare time, if she is not pouring her heart out into poetry, she likes spending her time with family (including two dogs), traveling, reading fantasy, sketching, or losing herself in music, nature, and tea.

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