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On ordering take-out and showing up for Asian Americans

As an Asian American woman, the shootings in Atlanta have broken my heart, filled me with sadness, anger, and fear. I’ve felt these things before, but this time my grief feels less invisible and more urgent.

Right after I read the news, and sat with my feelings for a moment, I texted my closest friends, fellow Asian American women I knew would understand how I was feeling. Friends I wouldn’t have to explain my sadness to. Friends I immediately felt held by.

Over the past week, we have checked in with each other, sent links to essays and artwork by other Asian women, made each other laugh, ordered each other takeout, and shared stories of our encounters with racism, our concerns for our elderly relatives, and the rich and complicated  experience of being Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) women.

For me and my friends, these conversations are critical to processing grief, to feeling heard and feeling less alone. Conversations are offering me so much support right now. I’m more grateful than ever to be part of an organization that designs meaningful conversations in rapid response to our most urgent issues and experiences.

To better support the AAPI community, we have created a new guide specifically to explore being Asian American in the time of COVID. You can find the guide–which we consider a working draft-HERE

The Living Room Conversations model is simple and structured so that anyone can host and have these conversations. When you are processing emotionally difficult and nuanced topics like race and racism, having structure can be helpful; having prompts prepared can help you find the words.

Like with all our guides, we make room for the variety in perspectives among AAPI folks; after all, we come from 19 distinct origin groups and other dimensions like class, immigration status, gender, and sexuality inevitably shape our experiences and world views, too.

For those of you in the AAPI community, firstly, I want you to know that I’m thinking of you, and that Living Room Conversations as an organization stands alongside you. If you feel up for organizing a conversation among your AAPI friends, family, or colleagues –– I hope you’ll consider using this guide.

You might use the guide as is, you might find yourself selecting just one of the questions to dig into, or you might spread the questions out across several conversations. However you choose to do it, it is meaningful.
While this conversation guide was designed for people who identify as AAPI, I invite non-AAPI allies to take a look, too. It might give you a sense for how AAPI are processing their identity and recent events.

Please also consider reviewing our Racial Equity resources and conversation guides.  And if you’re looking for something tangible to do, I highly recommend taking a bystander intervention training to learn how to help deescalate situations of xenophobic, anti-Asian harassment.

I know conversations alone cannot heal wounds, but the conversations I’ve had this past week have shown me how important they are to processing grief and affirming my identity. I am happy to be doing the work in community with all of you.
With love and care,
Justine Lee
Executive Director, Living Room Conversations