‘Avalanche of anti-Asian hate’ after Vogue feature on former Vancouver mayor’s wedding
Posted March 21, 2021 9:54 pm.
Last Updated March 22, 2021 4:59 am.
VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — When Eileen Park’s wedding to former Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson was featured in Vogue magazine, congratulations came flooding in from around the world. But any joy that brought was swiftly swept away by a torrent of sexist, racist abuse.
Park, who is Korean-American, posted a video to Facebook Sunday describing what she has been subjected to since the magazine featured her wedding last week, the same week that six Asian women were slain in Georgia.
“I was in a state of so much sadness and grief from the news, but at the same time, lifted up by the love and support of so many people who reached out to say congratulations — friends and strangers saying they were so grateful to have some news of love and happiness that week. But there was also an avalanche of anti-Asian hate on news of our interracial marriage,” she says.
“I’ve been reluctant to speak on this because despite having been in the public eye for a while, it still never gets easier to be this exposed, and this personal. But for too long, Asian women all over the world, like me, have had to keep quiet and eat our own bitterness, and I just can’t keep quiet anymore.”
Warning: In this video Park repeats some of the racist comments people made and uses one swear word.
Last Wednesday, a white man, Robert Aaron Long, was charged with killing eight people at three Atlanta-area massage parlours. The attack has sent terror through the Asian American community, which has increasingly been targeted during the coronavirus pandemic. Asian American women have shared stories of being sexually harassed or demeaned, drawing attention to harmful stereotypes about Asian women rooted in racism and sexism.
“Despite an unprecedented dialogue happening right now about the dire consequences of hypersexualizing Asian women, I was bombarded with hate-filled messages,” Park says in the video.
“The amount of disgusting DMs and mentions I got as a result made me ill. The fetishization of Asian women is racist. Why? Because it dehumanizes and targets us.”
When Park met Robertson she was working as the communications director for the mayor of Portland. Prior to that she had a career as a journalist.
In her video, she outlines some of the sexualized racism she endured when she had a professional role in municipal government.
“Wherever I went, whoever I stood next to at an event — especially if it was a male colleague — rumours would start. I must be sleeping with that person. How could someone who looks like me not be? That assumption right there is racist. Why? Because of the long history of hypersexualizing Asian women,” she says, adding local media amplified these rumours and investigated them while refusing to engage with Park herself when she tried to refute them.
“This should come as no surprise, my white male predecessors did not receive the same treatment while doing the same job. As a woman of colour in senior leadership, those types of unfounded rumours — they permanently damage a woman’s credibility and reputation.”
Park speaks frankly about how painful it was for her to be subjected to relentless rumours and harassment — both online and in real life.
“If it wasn’t for my partner, Gregor, and a few friends I confided in I don’t know where I’d be today. There were many nights I didn’t want to live anymore,” she says.
Overwhelmed by how pervasive #antiasianhate is in the world. Even more alarmed to see some members of the media/public unwittingly create opportunities for such hate to thrive on their platforms. It starts with a clever, snarky post to set the tone…and there goes the avalanche.
— Eileen Park Robertson 박아린 (@eparkrobertson) March 20, 2021
One reason Park decided to share her experience was to try to shatter the stereotype of Asian women as submissive. Another was to add her voice and share her experience during this crucial moment.
“Chances are many of you don’t have many Asian friends in your circle. So here I am, as a friend, sharing my personal grief and pain, hoping it will start changing deeply rooted attitudes about us,” she says.
“Now for the first time in history, we are having an international conversation about the historically invisible pain of our Asian friends and family, and that truly gives me hope for change.”
Park also says she appreciates people who have reached out to offer support, and those who have acted as allies by shutting down racism when they encounter it.
“There were strangers I didn’t even know who sent me such beautiful messages of support, and those messages gave me so much strength. I want you to know your kindness has been a lifeline for me.”