The Reality of the Asian American Community Amidst the Global Pandemic and The Role of Narratives

WASHINGTON, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, UNITED STATES , March 25, 2021 / — On March 17, 2021, eight people, including six of Asian descent tragically lost their lives during a series of shootings at massage parlors in Atlanta, Georgia. They were: Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, and Daoyou Feng. While the authorities have not yet declared a motive, the incident is just one of many violent crimes perpetrated against Asian Americans since the beginning of the global pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic, which certain political leaders derogatorily labeled as the “Kung Flu” and “China Virus”, raged across the international community in early 2020, taking the lives of close to 2.72 million worldwide to date. This terminology arose in large part due to the findings that the virus originated in a lab in Wuhan, China. A discovery that left many enraged.

Let’s dive in:

What is the role of narratives in the current and ongoing events, both domestically and worldwide? A narrative is the ongoing messages or stories told about a thing, place, event, or person for the purpose of transmitting information. It can also be a powerful representation tool. At Percipi, a DC-based communications and PR agency, we are grounded in the foundation that there is a direct relationship and interconnection between narratives and realities; that the words, terminologies, and stories we tell ourselves and others impact our lives and those around us. They create perceptions and cultures; they shape dialogues and policies.

It is fundamentally wrong to define identity in a single story, be it color of skin, ethnicity, or gender. To echo the great Martin Luther King Jr., “I look to a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” There is a fundamental difference between what one does and who one is. This philosophy is detrimental and cripples the progress of our society socially, economically, and politically.

Socially – America is home to approximately 44.8 million immigrants, which makes up 14% of the U.S. population. Immigrants are business owners, job creators, executives driving the national economy and increasing our nation’s capacity to develop new ideas. Immigration makes America stronger, positioning us to lead in the 21st century. Immigration is our competitive strength. The positive impact of immigrants on the advancement of American society is vast. Each culture is weaved into the American culture giving substance to what we know to be America. To order in Chinese with a bottle of Italian wine after a long work week is American. To go out for tacos and margaritas for ladies’ night is American. What draws immigrants to this country is not only our diversity but hope. Hope for a better tomorrow. Hope, to not only have more, but to be better. Hope to reach and live the American dream. When we as a society allow any one of us to be intimidated, persecuted, or silenced, we are saying no to what makes us who we are: Americans.

Economically – Our global economy is dependent on free trade between nations and across borders. Whether advanced or emerging economy, the challenges facing the global economy are vast, complex, and interconnected. We all have a large stake in these interconnections. What happens elsewhere in the world—be it the success of recovery in Europe or the continued smooth functioning of supply chains in Asia—matters increasingly for the United States. The reverse is also true. What happens here in the U.S. matters increasingly for the global economy. When a community or demographic is misperceived through partial narratives, it has the potential to create division and challenges in engagements, agreements, and partnerships, from the individual, community, corporate and political levels. We must have a path for global economic and financial stability for all; there is no place for hate on that road.

Politically – In our divided nation we cannot afford to divide the key neighborhoods and communities based on their ethnic, demographic, social, or economic background, only to then turn and ask for their votes, endorsements, and support. We must protect the identity, narratives, and legacy of the oppressed: we all have a role to play. Business—have a key role to play. At the same time, policymakers have an important responsibility to help shape the environment in which businesses and citizens can thrive—and jobs can be created. Our government has a role to hold actions accountable, protect its citizens, and challenge social constructs. Members of the society, our educators, communicators, journalists, and small-business owners have an opportunity to instill in the next generation a sense of accountability. Changing centuries of perception, outlook, and worldview will not happen overnight. However, we have a unique opportunity and a social responsibility to foster open dialogue within our homes and network to shape cultures and change the narrative.

“The increasing surge in crimes towards the Asian and Black communities is a threat to all communities, and every American. Until the nation can shift how we communicate about our mutual differences within our society, hashtags such as #BlackLivesMatter and #StopAsianHate are only the beginning of a much wider reckoning.” – Naomie Pierre-Louis, CEO, Percipi Global

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