As a Korean American woman who grew up in the deep South, I am no stranger to racism. However, it wasn't until the start of the pandemic that I ever truly feared for my safety or questioned my belonging in this country I've called home since birth.
According to Stop AAPI Hate, a national coalition that tracks incidents of violence and discrimination against Asian American and Pacific Islanders, there have been more than 10,000 reported hate incidents against AAPI persons between March 19, 2020 and December 31, 2021 (with a noticeable increase between the two years). While these numbers are staggering, I am sadly not surprised to see them given the number of xenophobic attacks I've witnessed even within my own circle of friends and family over the past year.
The ongoing attacks have been deeply unsettling and, at times, I've felt hopeless and uncertain about how to move forward without shrinking or hardening myself. Then I remembered why I got into this industry in the first place. When I became a beauty editor more than eight years ago, it was a decision that was largely based on my desire to connect with people through the seemingly surface-level world of makeup and hair.
Yes, the discovery of new products was fun, but what really drew me to this industry was the way it allowed people from all walks of life find common ground.