Since the beginning of the pandemic, I have been shocked by the amount of racist political language aimed at Asian-Americans and the spike in hate crimes against the community. As a white person, I feel ashamed that I didn’t focus on this problem sooner. During this period, I have often thought about a Korean-American woman I worked with several years ago. We grew close and moved our friendship beyond the office (dinners with our partners and theater evenings, etc.). I’d like to check in with her now and express my support over recent events. But it’s been several years since we’ve been in touch, and something is holding me back. What do you think?
Reading this as a woman of color. I found myself cringing and thinking “absolutely not”. I would inform her that “something that is holding her back” is probably a level of guilt. I have heard from clients and students that the volume of well-meaning overtures they received from white people they hadn’t spoken to in ages feels overwhelming at a time when they are traumatized and exhausted. I encourage those who want to be allies to focus on actions such as educating themselves about the history and current circumstances of violence and racism. It is also great to volunteer, support local businesses, or donate to anti-violence organizations. I would like to ask this woman why she and her coworker stopped connecting. I love that Philips agrees with me as pens back “You haven’t been in touch with your friend in years, contacting her now may seem more like racial profiling to her — Hey, I know an Asian-American!” — than personal support.