"Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack, a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in."
~ Leonard Cohen
I remember listening to this Leonard Cohen song — "Anthem"— the day after the 2016 Presidential election, and just a few days after Cohen's passing. There's an introspectiveness and melancholy to Cohen's storytelling through song that always seems to find me when I need it most, in the most unexplained, but welcome ways. Sadly, I've needed Cohen more and more often the past several years. For many reasons, really. And for one reason mainly.
Cohen wasn't known to explain his music often but he did give a rare insight to "Anthem" in a radio interview segment from 1992. Given the horrific crimes we've witnessed this week in Atlanta against our Asian American Pacific Islander community— and in the previous months as well, largely thanks to inflammatory and racist rhetoric from a former United States President, I thought Cohen's words here could help us find our purpose and our courage to keep fighting for the humanity of others. To keep working to let the light in.
"The future is no excuse for an abdication of your own personal responsibilities towards yourself and your job and your love. “Ring the bells that still can ring” they’re few and far between but you can find them.
This situation does not admit of solution of perfection. This is not the place where you make things perfect, neither in your marriage, nor in your work, nor anything, nor your love of God, nor your love of family or country. The thing is imperfect.
And worse, there is a crack in everything that you can put together: Physical objects, mental objects, constructions of any kind. But that’s where the light gets in, and that’s where the resurrection is and that’s where the return, that’s where the repentance is. It is with the confrontation, with the brokenness of things."
Like many of you, I am heartbroken, gutted and devastated by the proliferation of hate crimes against our minority communities in this country. And this week's mass shooting, that resulted in the murder of 8 people, 6 of whom, were Asian women is another horrific punch to the stomach. Make no mistake, this was a racially motivated hate crime, no matter how the shooter might explain his "bad day" defense. Which means, I can't even begin to imagine the pain and fear my AAPI friends are going through— to feel unwelcome and unsafe in America, their home.
Sadly, the older I get, the more I realize, there isn't much that surprises me anymore, particularly when it comes to racism in this country. And I hate that it's currently 2021, and that previous sentence is largely true for all of you reading this, too. Racism is an insidious, heinous disease that can yes, explode in the ways we've seen it splashed across headlines, particularly this last year alone. But the even more dangerous thing about racism is that it largely courses through a seedy underbelly, oftentimes undetected or at least, unchecked. Our own history books are a prime example of this, with omissions of important figures, alterations of events or complete falsifying of the truth. All in effort to perpetuate a narrative that supports and upholds systems of white supremacy.
To circle this back with Cohen, I know I may not have the perfect words at all times, but I am committed to standing with those who need me. Because we all need each other. To listen. To learn. To understand. To empathize. To champion. To defend. To love. Until we all receive those basic human rights, until we ALL feel safe, none of us are safe.
If you'd like to dive into ways to get involved or perhaps better understand how we can all take action against hate crimes, particularly in regards to our AAPI communities, I've put together a brief and by no means comprehensive resource list of stats, organizations and charities working to stop Asian hate. Please join me in helping to let the light in.
- 40% of U.S. adults believe "it has become more common for people to express racist views toward Asians since the pandemic began" (Source: Pew Research)
- More than 1,800 racist incidents against Asian Americans were reported between March and May of 2020, according to a United Nations Report (Source: CBS News)
- By late April, a coalition of Asian-American groups that had created a reporting center called Stop AAPI Hate, said it had received almost 1,500 reports of incidents of racism, hate speech, discrimination, and physical attacks against Asians and Asian-Americans. (Source: Human Rights Watch)
- AAAJ bystander intervention trainings (these are free to sign up for!)
- Bystander intervention guide
- USA Today: How to be an ally
- ABC News: Stand up with AAPI communities
- Stop Asian Hate
- Hate Is A Virus
- Stop AAIP Hate
- Create to Stop Hate: If you are or know anyone who is an AAPI artist, brand, creative or maker, this organization is currently looking for submissions to be auctioned off as a means of raising funds for Stop AAIP Hate, the organization I listed above. For questions regarding submissions, head to the @createtostophate Instagram profile for more details.
And as always, if you have any resources you'd like to add to the above list, please do let me know!
Maticevski dress on loan via Nova Octo (similar more casual style here) // Vintage Chanel earrings (similar style here) // Shot on location in the Bronx at a landmark mansion, a former retirement home turned event space.