One of the main reasons why we moved was because of racism and bullying. In particular, my daughter had a bully in school who was absolutely relentless. That was six years ago. We pulled her out and put both kids in magnet schools in Hartford. We love our school experience now. Best decision we’ve ever made.
A couple years ago, I wondered, why was that bully flicking my daughter’s forehead? It was so weird, like so random. I asked K if she did it to anybody else, and she said no.
So, you can Google anything, right? So when I Google “forehead flicking,” I come to realize that some Asian cultures (not Filipino as far as I can tell) do this for the following random reasons…
to be annoying
to punish for misbehavior
to call someone stupid
And this is years after, right? Where it finally occurred to me to look this up. This bully targeted my kid for being 1/2 Asian American. The bully’s name was Grace. And now, when we say Grace at the table, I think of her. I don’t think of God. I think of this rude kid.
Further, when I think of the word Grace, I think of our old church and how I asked for help during this time. I asked for someone to talk to as K was struggling. And they said no. Simply no.
So the word Grace isn’t one of my favorites.
Weird, racist stuff happens to me all of the time. I hate that my kids will likely deal with undercover racist bullying. I say undercover because we don’t normally talk about it. And undercover because the actions seem unintentional and like no big deal.
Even yesterday, a cashier at Target was very derogatory towards me and spoke slowly as if I couldn’t understand English.
I’ve been followed countless times, one by grown men taking pictures of me with a telephoto lens, in public, at the Danbury Mall.
And another time with a man drooling and masturbating in Pathmark in Waterbury, a grocery store. Everybody saw him, and nobody stopped it. I was only 13. Wow, I had nightmares about that for 20 years.
Then there was this other time where I had pepper spray. That was in Zermatt, Switzerland with my cousin when we were on vacation. It was late and we were on our way back to the hotel from a bar.
Another time I was with my parents at Milford Jai Alai (my dad loved jai alai).
And another time during COVID when two men followed me in CVS shortly after Trump started calling it Kung Flu.
Oh, and the time I was with C in the toddler section of Payless. We were choosing between Paw Patrol sneakers or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when an older man approached me. I know Asian women know where this is going…
There are countless times when older men approach me in a store and ask if I’m Filipino. I say yes because there’s a tiny part of me that’s hopeful he will share something really amazing about my family’s homeland. Perhaps he’ll talk about the food, or the weather. Or the gorgeous landscapes he got to see.
Nope! 9/10 times it’s about Filipino girlfriends from the war, am I married, how did I get to this country, was I born here, can I speak the language, mahal kita, maganda ka… at that point, I just walk away.
With the hate crime that happened in Atlanta yesterday…
And all the hate crime happening throughout the USA…
I’m just _.
This is why I do what I do. As I help more small business owners, immigrants and first-generation Americans, definitely BIPOC entrepreneurs, this just added fuel to my flame. Today I’m going to study up on my coaching certification training and really zero in on how I can contribute. We have to step up. Speak up. And do a lot better.
I’ll leave you with this. https://www.ihollaback.org/bystanderintervention/
Janet Johnson is the author of My Money Pivot: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Finding & Making More Money. Before becoming a coach, Janet gained seventeen years of experience in a family-owned manufacturing company. She also trained small business owners in Financial Management and Lean Enterprise for seven years through contracts with the State of Connecticut and the Small Business Administration for seven years.