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?