Anti-Asian Hate Has Me Rethinking Overseas Travel to West, and I’m Not Alone

It was over a week after the tragic shooting in Atlanta that left eight dead, including six Asian women, and yet Georgia was still on my mind as my husband Jun and I prepared dinner. 

“You remember our dream of doing a road trip around the US?” I mentioned to him while chopping veggies. “It’s hard to imagine doing that now.”

I felt a wave of anxiety as I recalled our cross-country drive in the US in the summer of 2016, which involved camping at small state parks scattered across the nation’s heartland, and even a night of sleeping in our car during a rainstorm. The idea of spending the night outside in a flimsy tent in a space where other people could see us — and, especially, my obviously Asian husband — suddenly appeared risky, in light of the rise in anti-Asian hate incidents.

I’d already had this concern long before the incident in Atlanta, having followed the reports from Stop AAPI Hate and news of the most extreme violence, including Asian elders pushed to the ground and even dying from related injuries. Atlanta only heightened my apprehension.

This doesn’t mean I won’t eventually travel back to the US to see family and friends. Eventually, once the pandemic is fully controlled and there aren’t the many other barriers that make travel impossible or impractical, I’ll make plans for a visit. But the idea of embarking on a pleasure trip for two — just my husband and me — doesn’t appeal as much now. I don’t know about you, but it’s hard to appreciate the majesty of, say, the Grand Canyon when you’re worried that your spouse might get assaulted because of his race and national origin.

And the thing is, I’m not alone in this. 

I recently came across a report titled ‘Anti-Asian Hate’ Big Obstacle for U.S. Tourism as China Outbound Travel Restarts, which noted that “Friendliness to Chinese Travelers” has surged as the No 1 factor influencing these travelers’ willingness to tour overseas. The report added:

…this need not necessarily be sentiments held only by mainland Chinese but Asians elsewhere, particularly those who are Chinese-looking. A Booking.com survey finds that nearly 70 percent of Asian travelers said friendliness of locals would factor into their decision-making process, with 84 percent saying “personal safety” would influence their choice of destination.

The report also said travelers ranked Asia as their most preferred overseas destination, followed by Europe and then North America.

I wonder, how many people in cross-cultural and interracial relationships here in Asia, like me, have also been rethinking the ways in which they might travel overseas with their Asian families in the West. How many more of us will put on hold those “dream travel” plans over safety concerns, opting for destinations within Asia or closer to home?

What do you think?

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22 Replies to “Anti-Asian Hate Has Me Rethinking Overseas Travel to West, and I’m Not Alone”

  1. Having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, having Asian-American classmates and friends- it is difficult for me to accept that anyone could be so low- class and hateful towards my fellow citizens. However, I did witness some prejudice toward Westerners in a famous market in Xi’an. A shopkeeper refused to serve a teacher in my cohort because he was obviously ” white”. With the recent inter- governmental discussions and videos of nationalism on Weibo, I wonder what kind of reception I will receive when I return to my beloved China. It all makes me so sad

    1. Thanks for the comment, Meghan. While I certainly cannot speak for everyone, the most common issue right now that comes up regarding foreigners in China is a fear that anyone with a foreign face may have COVID (since the pandemic is more serious in countries). I am not aware of any kind of widespread fear among foreigners here in China of other prejudice or attacks like the hate incidents and crimes that have been making news in Western countries. My foreign colleagues go out all the time and I never hear of anyone feeling concerned about getting assaulted or worse.

      1. More white people around the world have died in proportion to the population, particularly Italians and French, and most recently German origin folks, particularly in Brazil.

    2. But, were there any incidents in China where a white person was beaten up in China, Singapore or for that matter anywhere in East Asia other than for robbery. Even when someone attacked an IR couple it was the Asian woman who was murdered. The white guy was not touched.

  2. I have the same concern but in a different way. I wanted to bring my boyfriend to the US but now I am not sure I would. Also, I am afraid of returning to China to live there since I am from the US and African American. This is just so sad. This should not be happening.

    1. Thanks for the comment Xiulan. I can understand your concerns about your bf. I can’t really speak for the current reception here for black individuals in China, though my guess is it probably isn’t much different from how it used to be before the pandemic (apart from, as I mentioned in another comment, the issue of foreigners being suspected of having the virus due to the pandemic being worse in other parts of the world).

  3. You make a really good point about tourism, Chinese tourism is a lifeline for places like NY and Cali, our country better solve this problem and soon

  4. Thank you for this. All very distressing. I’ve had these same kinds of thoughts as my Chinese husband (from Hong Kong but an American citizen schooled in the US) and I plan our house in the PNW and plan our move back to the USA.

  5. I’m concerned for Asians traveling anywhere, especially the older folks. Happy that you had the opportunity to do a cross-country trip, though. That must have been fun.

  6. My daughter lives in Japan and is married to a Japanese man. Looks like a trip for them might not be down the road. He may not be Chinese, but he definitely looks Asian.

    There are so many prejudiced people in the U.S. Ever since Trump it’s gotten much worse.

    Let’s hope the prejudice will blow over.

    1. Thanks for the comment, Sharon. Indeed, it doesn’t matter what your nationality or ethnicity is; as long as you look Asian, you’re at risk. And Trump has definitely exacerbated things.

      We all hope for a world without prejudice. It won’t come overnight, but we can continue to make progress when we all join hands to combat not only hate crimes but also racism, discrimination and all forms of bias.

  7. I live in New York City and what’s frustrating is that the main media can care less about asian lives it seems. During the time when Black Lives matter was hot and heavy, the media are all over the place. It’s obvious hollywood icon, and the music industries has so much influence on people, and yet, none has spoken up. It just to show how much they care about Asian lives. I immigrant from HK at the age of 11 and now I am 46. The racism that I encounter has been consistence be it violence or small talk.. Most politicans and the media concentrate on White racism, and yet, no one talks about racism from blacks or even latinos. In the US, it’s taboo to talk bad about blacks even if they are the perpetrator. The sad thing is most of the recent violent attacks are from Blacks in NYC, and it’s something a lot of asian people find it strange. They would always think that because they have experience the effect of racism, they would not be racist. However, that’s not the case. I don’t want to come across as black hate and what not. I grow up here and I have friends from all ethnic. I don’t judge people by the color of the skin, but by behavior. BTW, I am married to my wife who is originally from europe, and we are thinking of moving out of NYC for various reason (mainly stupidity of politican policies : ) in addition to the on going asian hatred. But where to?

    1. It seems odd that you are experiencing prejudice in NYC. In NYC most people are so used to seeing all kinds of people. Where do you live?? You may want to find a better part of town with more of your ethnicity.

      In the US many people think that Asians have it “easy.” Probably because they’re usually educated and have good jobs. As for racism from blacks and some latinos, it can happen. But it depends on the neighborhood. NYC is really big. I come from the East Coast and had many friends of all ethnicities. Now I live in CA. I don’t know what part of NYC you’re in, but there are all kinds of neighborhoods.

      You’re from HK and she’s European. Well, there are better places in NYC, so you may want to look. Or move out of the City, and try different areas. I have not heard of Asian Hate in NYC, so I don’t know where you are. Maybe you are in a bad area….

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