I was moved to write Needs, Wants, and Other Weaknesses because I couldn't stop thinking about the exploitation and human trafficking present in our every day lives. There's a bit about prostitution, but the prostitutes I glance at aren't trafficked, and they're not the main story. The exploitation in the books deals with those mundane things we see all the time but do nothing about, whether it's someone who works for a low, low price serving us food at a restaurant or the really cheap shrimp we can buy because the people who do the hard work on shrimp boats are slaves.
But people don't want to hear about that because there's nothing remotely fun about it. Exploitation is dreary and ugly -- but if you sex it up a little bit, then just wait to see people clutching their pearls and delivering condemnations about the ugliness of human trafficking and demanding that something be done.
So we know this. It's not okay, but okay. But that same dynamic struck even closer to home than usual last week.
Asian Americans have been being literally pushed around, beaten, and killed for over a year now. Actually, it's been much longer, but it spiked 150 percent since the COVID-19 pandemic. So many of the victims have been elderly, and the things they have done to draw the ire of their attackers are things that are symptomatic of a normal life: grocery shopping. Getting money at an ATM. Taking the train. For the crime of existing and not hiding, they have been beaten and sometimes killed.
This is not a secret. I am not part of any secret cabal, and certainly not one that focuses on Asian American life (sadly -- no one invites me to these things like they're supposed to). This has been in the news, but it hasn't the media's greater attention. Yes, thank you for condemning the former president referring to COVID-19 as the China Virus and Kung Flu, but where were you when we couldn't leave our own homes and had to organize people to escort our elderly to the grocery store?
But wow, they can't get enough of what happened to the women in Atlanta. I feel sick thinking about a gun man going after these women, but who was going to stop him? Nobody cared when other Asian Americans were being hurt, so why should they care about someone going after them?
Because the completely not racist murderer had to make it about sex. (Throw in guns and Jesus, this guy should have just written a movie script. Or wait, haven't we all seen this movie before?) And now the media can't shut up. Now, suddenly, they're talking about how we've had targets on our backs for years, and they've only gotten bigger, and our attackers more vicious.
Gee, thanks. Now I just have one question: where will they be the next time?