Recently, Korean American singer-songwriter and entrepreneur Eric Nam was interviewed by CNN to talk about his article for Time Magazine and discuss the racism against Asians in America amidst the mass shooting incident in his hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. Three Atlanta-area spa parlors were targeted in a hate crime that led to eight people’s deaths, six of whom were Asian women.
He explained that there had been warning signs from Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI), especially within the last year, concerning the increase of racism and violence against Asians in America. With the mass shooting incident, it is not until now that people are realizing how bad the number of hate crimes is right now. It’s unfortunate that it took such a tragic event for it to finally reach and gain attention from both national and international news.
Over the past year, we have been the loudest we’ve ever been. We have been asking for allies to stand with us and to fight with us and, unfortunately, all the warning signs, they kind of went unnoticed, they kind of landed on deaf ears.
— Eric Nam
He expressed how disheartening it is that it has had to come to such a horrific incident for there to finally be a conversation held about racism against Asians in the United States. He shared that many Asian Americans, including himself, have been experiencing hate for years. Unfortunately, it is not until now that people are realizing the racism that Asians have been suffering.
I think it comes from a place of ignorance, from a lack of education, and a lack of discourse, but absolutely myself, as I alluded to in my op-ed piece, there are so many moments where I felt targeted or discriminated against or things that can be casually racist… ‘Is this racist? I’m not sure it is, but I’m not quite sure how to identify it,’ and we’ve never really had that kind of conversation.
— Eric Nam
Eric also talked about the daily struggle of living as an Asian American. He explained that others treat and speak to you in such as way that you feel like a foreigner in your own country.
The United States has a very incredible history but also a very dark history and a large part of the Asian American experience has had a lot of potent moments of that darkness that was kind of swept under the rug that we haven’t really properly addressed. I think from the Chinese Exclusion Act to the Japanese American Internment, there are so many moments of history we can point to and discuss, but in sense of the perpetual foreigner, I think it can be as casual as like, ‘Where are you from?,’ ‘Where are you really from?,’ for me, it’s always Atlanta, but it’s as if I’m not from there…
— Eric Nam
While Eric was born and raised in Atlanta and English was his first language, people would oftentimes make microaggressive remarks and ask, “Why is your English so good?” or “Where did you learn English?”
In many ways, it makes me feel like, ‘Do I not belong here?,’ ‘Why am I here?,’ and ‘How do I identify?’ I think this is something that so many of us in the community have dealt with our entire lives and I think that’s why so much of this racism can also be very casual and can kind of sneak up on us in many ways.
— Eric Nam
He briefly touched on the reaction and response throughout Asia to the increase of hate crimes throughout America. He said that, for most, there’s a hesitancy to think of America positively. When Asians are planning to travel or study abroad, people often ask, “Are you sure? It’s a little unsafe,” “I hope you have a safe trip,” or even “Do you have to go?”
These instances are really rekindling and kind of adding fuel to the fire in terms of that sentiment, which is, I think, very, very unfortunate considering that I believe and I truly love this country, The United States of America and so much of what it has offered to the world and the beauty of what the United States of America is and to see it kind of shown in that light has been really disheartening.
— Eric Nam
You can watch the full interview below.
#AsianAmericans feel like "perpetual foreigners" in their own country, says Atlanta born #K-pop star Eric Nam @ericnamofficial And he says warning signs of anti Asian sentiment have been there – just not heeded.
#StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate #EricNam pic.twitter.com/QrMJSBbRqU
— Michael Holmes (@holmescnn) March 22, 2021