tfw you unsure if you just got hate crimed or if it’s just downtown la. 🙃
last weekend someone threw an empty glass bottle at me when i was walking to the vet to pick up my cat from a checkup. i was walking on main st just passing 6th—i looked around, couldn’t see anyone and i was on the phone with the vet so i just kept walking instead of making a scene. it wasn’t until i got home that it dawned on me that it was thrown on purpose (luckily only smacked my hand/wrist). the angle couldn’t have been accidental—it was thrown from behind me and perhaps from above.
i’m wondering why i’m writing about this a week later. ultimately, for two reasons—i want to talk about processing the experience and issues i think need to be addressed tied to racism or mental illness.
it took some time to process
i’ve mostly lived in metropolitan cities—los angeles, new york and london briefly. even growing up, i lived in a fairly liberal part of northern california and partially china (where you can imagine, i didn’t experience quite the same amount of racism but was still ostracized for being american and well that’s a whole other topic). although i’ve experienced racism, typically these cities are more diverse and because you have so many ethnicities and cultures together, it’s more inclusive. sure there are still clashes, but i’m not being stared at like i was when i drove through middle america in my 20s.
because i’ve lived in these “melting pot” cities, it is even more jarring when something racist happens to me because i’m reminded that i’m “other” and don’t belong. i’ve grown accustomed to being relatively comfortable and accepted.
i think this is why when i was just walking on the sidewalk and i had the glass bottle thrown at me, i was surprised and brushed it off as an odd accident only to go home and jump through the cycle of realization that i was actually targeted. this was even more jarring to me because this was the first time i’ve been in downtown la since i’ve moved back to california and i had been nostalgic. i used to work on spring st years ago and had grown to feel a certain amount of affection for the neighborhood despite its problems. it was jarring because it felt like that nostalgia was unwelcomed and returned with hostility. when i got home, it felt like a strange processing of emotions—anger that i only realized now that it was thrown on purpose and anger that i didn’t find who did it so i can discern if it was a hate crime or someone with mental health issues. i was angry and felt like i let myself down by not defending myself because i only realized too late that it was intentional.
mental health, drug addiction, and poverty need to be addressed in america
i know downtown la is shady and it’s only gotten worse during covid. in addition to the glass bottle throwing incident, i was cat called incessantly during my short walk. now, given the area and the fact that i was unable to see who threw the bottle, i’m still unsure if it was thrown because of i am asian or because whoever threw it was not all there mentally.
where is this hate coming from? i can see people who have suffered being angry about their position by responding with hate. regardless if the bottle was thrown out of racism, would this hate be as strong if society had the support systems in place to help those who are suffering so that they don’t displace their hate on others?
i mean, don’t get me wrong—i’m not making excuses for racist behavior. i hate the hell out of people who do shit like this but also i think in order to have a long term change, we need to examine why and the origin of this hate.
additionally, if the bottle was thrown by someone not due to my race but because they’re mentally ill or inebriated, why are they not getting the help that they need? why is downtown la filled with tents and suffering?
i’m fine but angry
i don’t like playing the guessing game of “was it racism or was it poverty/mental illness/addiction?” both indicate a failure within society.
with the rising hate crimes against asians, i hate being triggered like this even if it was not a racist hate crime. and if it was the latter—poverty/mental illness/addiction, it doesn’t lessen how terrible the disparities of wealth and social support available in america are.
luckily the glass bottle didn’t hit my head. it smacked the back of my hand forcefully and shattered on the ground. if i had been able to find parking outside the vet, i would’ve just waited in my car since it was curbside dropoff/pickup only anyway.
i’m angry and frustrated that i had this negative experience but can’t even have closure or clarity on what the experience was—was it racism? was it mental illness or homelessness in la? i’m frustrated that i’m even still thinking about this right now.
i’m not traumatized from this experience since it’s just another drop in the bucket to what’s happened to me and others already. when i was in high school and crossing the street to the mall, some people shouted out of a car “go back home, gook” which honestly, on brand for them to misidentify my ethnicity with a racial slur. i’ve had my hair spit on while boarding a bus in brooklyn—although that incident is similar to this one where i’m not sure if it was due to my race, if i looked like a gentrifier, or if the person was just mentally ill. this is all to say that i’m fine but all these collective experiences have made me really angry. i want to be able to defend myself when attacked verbally and physically but many of these instances i never got a chance to do so. so in addition to the anger, i sit with the guilt of not responding fast enough or processing what even happened until much later.
i wanted to share this not to gain pity or attention but to explain all the complicated emotions that go through experiencing something like this and where i think we need to go to make long term progress.