The peas that have gone rotten

Photo by Taylor Gray, Student Publications

Sometimes I feel like I have lived through two different versions of the same year. It almost feels as if we are in the Twilight zone per se.

On one hand, many people have suffered unimaginable losses and pain that no one could have imagined. On the other hand, some people have been living their best lives possible with no regard to the pandemic.

Last fall, I wrote a piece called “The peas that bruise us,” and discussed how people from my hometown showed ignorance and inflicted microaggressions upon the AAPI at the beginning of the pandemic. For those who might not have read that original piece, it came to fruition specifically after a girl from my high school posted a picture on her social media platforms labeled “Global mall definitely has Coronavirus.”

For those unfamiliar with the mall, it is a well-known hub for small South Asian businesses.

Now, this occurred at the very beginning of the pandemic, merely a few weeks in when everyone was ecstatic to have a prolonged spring break and expected to come back.

Yet, it bothered me that lockdown had barely begun and people were already making small jokes towards the AAPI community, a fear that had been brewing among certain communities long before the United States decided to take COVID-19 seriously.

This small annoyance festered in my mind over the weeks that followed until it exploded into full-blown anger.

It kept me up one night until I got out of my bed at 6 a.m. and wrote out my feelings about the attitude and behavior of the people I had gone to school with.

Thus, “The peas that bruise us,” was born, and I could finally find some semblance of sleep.

However, even after writing out my feelings and sending it to the girl who provoked my anger, even after I turned it into an editorial piece and it got published for the world to see, I could not help but wonder if I was overreacting.

I wondered if I had made a mountain out of a mole hill. Even though others that went to the same high school reached out to me and said that my piece put into words what they had been feeling themselves over the past few years and upon seeing the post that was made about the Global Mall, I wondered if we were all just being too sensitive.

In light of the BLM movement that grew even more over the summer, the APPI community could not complain about our discomfort for fear of taking awareness away from others in our community that greatly needed it. But after a year, during AAPI hate has become more and more visible, I find myself growing more and more fearful for my friends and their families. I find that despite engaging in meaningful conversation with the girl from my high school who ridiculed the South Asian community a year ago, no one’s attitudes have changed. The same people that were posting black squares over the summer have been silent over the past few weeks, as eight innocent people were killed only a few miles away.

While others have been crying for help and awareness for the crimes committed against their communities, others have been posting endless pictures after pictures of them traveling from one city to another showing off their vacations. It is not fair. I don’t expect social media to offer solutions to all of our problems, and nor do I expect everyone to voice their opinions and support on their accounts. But I do think it is very telling when people do not know how to read the room, and if they do choose to post if at all, what the content of those posts address. All I can say is after the past year, but especially the past few weeks, I am exhausted.

The peas that bruised my back last summer have officially gone rotten.