A woman started screaming and filming me in the parking lot — but that’s not even the worst part

The author and his dog live in Austin, Texas.

The author and his dog live in Austin, Texas.

The author and his dog live in Austin, Texas.

I don’t know what made her so angry. A white woman yelled at me from behind the wheel of a Texas-sized SUV. I was there.

Every time I honked in her car, I got closer to a “collision.” Flare of symptoms caused by exertion in patients with Muscular Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndromeor ME/CFS.

Experiences vary from patient to patient, but for me, physical and emotional stress causes muscle weakness, lightheadedness, cognitive difficulties, general body aches, fatigue, and digestive dysfunction. and a ray of light is like a bonfire. This woman’s voice was a cudgel.

Since there is no cure or approved treatment for ME/CFS, medical care focuses on symptom management. I have to practice.”pacingMay I never exceed my energy capacity – instructions far easier in concept than in practice.

You can meticulously plan your day, but there are deadlines for writing, preparing for classes, grading, dragshortage A stranger in the parking lot is burning the last bits of my emotional reserve.

As I understood this woman was backing out of the parking lot. I was drawn to her side. It was just the two of us moving around her property and I stopped to make sure there was enough room for her to leave, no danger or urgency.

Our eyes met for a beat before she ranted. When I finished parking, she parked diagonally across one exit lane, directly behind my car. She had already rolled down the window when I stepped onto the sidewalk. She leaned her upper body out of the car and raised her hands to knock me off.

“Is it because I’m small?” she cried.

Her question was unexpected. When I paused, she repeated in the dull staccato that some people use when they think you don’t understand English. That. because. you. So. small? Idiot. Is that why you’re so bad at driving? Is it because you are small? ”

I’m Taiwanese American, transmasculine, 5’2″, and it took me 12 years of an illness to lose 40 pounds in 3 months. By many standards, I’m “insanely small.”

For a while, I found myself weak, passive, and a receptacle of her own bad emotions through the lens of her words. I hate the surge of memories spilling out this afternoon—every time I seem like an easy target.

I hate the lifetime of racism, transphobia, and canism she summoned for me. For a while, I found myself weak, passive, and a receptacle of her own bad emotions through the lens of her words.

I hate the surge of memories spilling out this afternoon—every time I seem like an easy target. Every time I hate it about myself. I remember all the ways I tried to slam this body into the bent steel. to something that can be cut.

Before I could answer, she pulled out her phone and pointed the camera at me. I wasn’t near her car, but she stiffened as if preparing for the impact. She realized she was waiting for me to get mad. She waited for me to return aggression so she could capture it on video.

If I match her tone, I will be able to fulfill the role she gave me.I’ll be a threat in her victim narrative. Her cell phone camera – the technology that enabled her to record people of color racist violence – Now served as her protector. She was taking her resentment out on me and pushing it on me.

I quietly collected my luggage from the car. When it became clear that I wasn’t following her script, she dropped her phone and kept screaming, but now another car that barricaded herself next to her SUV was heading towards her. I was starting to honk my horn.

I had to ask, “Does this make you feel better?”

She shouted “Yes!” when she pulled away.

I’d like to believe it doesn’t work. It means that you can’t replace your pain with others. But I am familiar with this experience. Mediocrity feels particularly ominous—the certainty that someone will mistake me for a punching bag on another bad afternoon.

In 2020, when businesses closed due to the new threat of COVID-19, a half-empty water bottle passed by my head as I was at a crosswalk in Target. It made me so nostalgic that I didn’t know what happened until I heard the phrase “China virus” that then-President Donald Trump often used. deflect blame For a global pandemic – thrown out the big window of a reversing hatchback.

In the United States, where a long history of xenophobia has contributed to the general confusion of all Asians, people who appear East Asian have become an easy outlet for the country’s uncontrolled anxieties.

Author and partner Mackenzie in Austin, Texas, 2021.

Author and partner Mackenzie in Austin, Texas, 2021.

Author and partner Mackenzie in Austin, Texas, 2021.

Jose Gomez III at Sam’s Club in West Texas, March 2020 attacked Burmese family, believe they are Chinese. Gomez wrapped a steak knife around his knuckle and punched his father in the face before stabbing his 6-year-old son.

Gomez later admitted he was trying to kill the child he was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic. He seemed like he was me, like my cousin, my childhood friend.

In August 2022, Gomez was sentenced to 25 years in prison. If he had served his full sentence, he would have been 46 when he was released and was incarcerated for more than half his life. I can’t imagine anyone not being able to stay.

3 years have passed since then Stop AAPI Hate I started tracking the escalation of anti-Asian violence. At the same time, anti-transgender and anti-queer attacks permeated state legislatures, the media, and everyday life.

On this year’s Transgender Day, A shooter brought an AR-15 to an LGBTQ club in Colorado Springs It then opened fire, killing five people and injuring at least 19 in the horrific echoes of the 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre. These attacks against LGBTQsafe havenis inseparable from a political climate openly hostile to transgender and queer people.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to live without being hated by others because of my breathing. I often wonder how few people get to enjoy that luxury. I wonder about the lasting damage when one person’s suffering becomes another’s burden.

I am lucky in that my ME/CFS is milder than most.For me, that experience was a bad cyclical flu infection or chronic mononucleosiswhich is one of the leading theories of disease.

My adrenaline carried me through parking lot conflicts, errands, and home before I collapsed. You can instinctively know the fragility of your body and at the same time be in awe of its perseverance.

Public suffering has always found scapegoats in marginalized communities.

Over the next few days, I experienced a familiar pattern of symptoms: a rising temperature, pain in my head, muscles, and stomach. My thoughts crawled and my body slowed further.

Watching my body metabolize this woman’s rage made me realize how this experience replicated broader social patterns, other destructive loops. , have always found scapegoats in marginalized communities.

Post-COVID-19 slurs against Asian Americans have been repeated for a long time Association plague-stricken Chinese immigrants. Cold War anxieties about national security homophobic persecution gay and lesbian.antisemitism today mainstreamed Celebrities and politicians have been making it for a long time conspiracy theory About Jewish power and control.

History has revealed not only the lies behind these theories, but their lasting damage. LGBTQ civil servants have not destroyed the U.S. government, but many have lost their jobs or their lifeMeanwhile anti-Semitic scapegoats fueled The past and present of the white supremacist movement.

Similarly, chauvinism and anti-immigration policy We have not been able to stem the tide of COVID-19 or the long-lasting escalation of the COVID crisis. Hate crime escalationStigmatizing immigrants as carriers of the disease is a distraction from the public health failures caused by US policies and attitudes.Also, immigrants disproportionate numbers of essential workers.

Shifting the blame to already marginalized others only doubled the suffering.

It would have been easier to think of my parking lot incident as just a relationship conflict. However, this story is bigger than me and an angry stranger. We cannot afford to normalize these cycles of blame that at best redistribute suffering. We need a pain response that’s about true healing, not about doing more harm.

V. Jo Hsu is Assistant Professor of Rhetoric and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin, Public Voices Fellow of the OpEd project, and author of Constellating Home: Trans and Queer Asian American Rhetrics. For more information, see: www.vjohsu.com.

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