Journal: a Walk Down a Popular Street in My City

Encounters with modern-day racism//we still got our bubble tea.

At the start of the pandemic, I was in my last year of high school. I had to buy snacks for a student event and at the local Superstore down the hill from school; a man yelled at me. He followed me across the store to the aisle I was looking for and told me to go home to my country. My country? Which one would that be? I’m already here. I might be half-Korean and half-Chinese, but I was born here. Canada is my country.

Fast forward to May 2021. You wouldn’t really know COVID still existed if you took a walk down 17th avenue in Calgary. People rarely wear masks. People gather outside. The restaurant scene is bustling, even though there is no dining in. It’s usually busier, but now people are settling for takeout and dog walks.

My sister and I wanted bubble tea. The shop nearby was a five to ten-minute walk. We were excited, so we took the dog, masked up, and set off into the warm evening for a nice walk. I don’t know if people gave us weird looks for wearing masks. We weren’t really paying attention.

Wearing a mask is a choice right now. I might be partially vaccinated, but I know that we could still be transmitters for the virus; there are still people who wear masks while walking, too, though it is significantly less. Nothing happened for most of the walk.

They noticed us before we noticed them. A man and a woman, waiting for the bus stop, sitting on the bench having a conversation. I don’t know what they were talking about, but they went silent as we neared them, before the woman leaned out and coughed at me. Sarcastic, the man said “oh my god. Do you have COVID again?” She looked at him, then at us, and laughed.

They might have been waiting for a response from us, but we continued walking away from them. Behind us, the man sneered, “Are you really that scared of COVID? Or is it just because you’re Asian?” Asian became derogatory in his mouth. Asian became derogatory towards us.

I gave him the finger without looking back.

(We got our bubble tea. Passion fruit green tea with pearls and lychee jelly.)

Sadly, this is only truly a really minor incident of racism against Asian people (of any kind), especially during the global pandemic. I was shocked it had even happened, but with everything happening, I know it’s always a possibility to encounter racism when I go out. It's horrible when you consider that the elderly are recipients of this kind of treatment and worse. I remember reading about the Chinese woman in New York City that was set on fire. How is this acceptable?

We need to talk about this. We need to hear more stories and be able to share our experiences. This is a start for me. This could be a start for you, too.

Luna and I on the bubble tea walk

Starting discussions, sharing stories, amplifying Asian voices.