Missouri On Mic: Sean Xiaohao Duan
Sean XiaoHao Duan loves Missouri. He loves the people, the food and the Cardinals. However as a Chinese immigrant he’s witnessed a rising tide of antiasian racism during the Coronavirus Pandemic. He spoke with KBIA for Missouri on Mic about this new rise in hostility and his hope for a better future.
Missouri on Mic is an oral history and journalism project documenting stories from around the state in its 200th year.
Sean Xiaohao Duan: For example, a lot of people think that the average white person is always super racist, because it used to be a slaveholding state back in the pre-Civil War era. And the thing is, I've always felt like sweeping generalizations overall are no good. It's better to, while it takes more effort, it is healthier and overall more educational to directly engage with people on whatever level they're on and really understand them before you make any assumptions.
Most of the time I've been here, I haven't had to deal too much with racism. It's been, I guess, particularly bad since in the COVID-19 pandemic, there's a lot of anti Asian racism and anti-Asian violence that's been spiking up, which I don't love.
It's just stuff like being in the grocery store, right? People will walk away and have a bit more distance from me, right? It's like, they don't want the Wuhan flu. They don't want the China virus, or you know, occasionally hearing slurs yelled at me on the street. In fact, the Chinese government is completely disconnected from the Chinese people in a lot of ways. So maybe, perhaps, perhaps the Chinese government's at fault, but I mean, how dare you lay that at the feet of someone who had just happened to have Chinese ancestry? I mean, that's not fair at all.
And here's the thing, it's not even necessarily that a lot of people that I know that are white are actively racist. It's more of a, they've grown up in a culture where racism has been normalized, that their interactions with their friends, their family, their grandparents, etc, etc, their church members, all that. It comes from a place of ignorance, not active hatred.
As a whole, I think that Missouri has been making a lot of strides towards being a more equitable, equitable place overall to live. It's good that there are people who are willing to be active and involved in community. That's I think something that people.... a lot of people psych themselves out with regards to being politically active and are like, "Ah, my vote doesn't matter because it doesn't count or, you know, the system's corrupt, et cetera, et cetera." Seeing people get off the couch, get on their feet and mobilize and engage in organized collective action. It makes my heart very happy to see people work together to achieve a goal.
The very fact that the trauma is bubbling up to the point where people can see it. That in of itself is worth celebrating, you know, instead of being something that people just silently sweep aside. The fact that attention is being paid toward it. That's important.