Kim Pham, author of A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate, talks about bringing awareness to acts of hate against AAPI individuals and communities and calling out racism when we see it happening.
A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate (view book)
Full Book Description:
In response to the growing racism and Anti-Asian hate toward the Asian community, we created a completely FREE resource to help grownups and kids learn about it, talk about it, and help do something about it.
About the Author:
Kim Pham is the daughter of Vietnamese immigrants who fled the war for a better life. She is also a wife and mother of 1 Asian American kid and 1 upcoming baby. Together we live in the San Francisco Bay Area.
*If you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll send you the details.
A Kids Book About: The Podcast
S1 E09, Kim Talks About Anti-Asian Hate
Matthew: What is anti-Asian hate?
Soleil: Anti-Asian is the hatred, both physical and verbal, against Asian people. The hatred that is directed at them stems from ignorance and racism. Recently I‘ve seen many people spreading awareness and doing their best to let Asian people know that they’re not alone.
Kim: Anti-Asian hate is when people treat you unfairly by making mean comments or physically abusing you just based on being Asian.
Matthew: Welcome to A Kids Book About: The Podcast! I’m Matthew. I’m a teacher, a librarian, and I’m your host. The voices you heard at the top of our show were from Soleil and Kim.
Each week we talk about the big things going on in your world with a different author from our A Kids Book About series.
[MEET OUR GUEST]
Kim: Hi. My name is Kim Pham. And I'm a stay-at-home mom to a beautiful three year old, almost four year old daughter. And I am expecting another one on the way in the couple of weeks. And I'm also an Asian American daughter to Vietnamese immigrants who came over after the war.
Matthew: Kim is also an author.
Kim: I am the author of A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate.
Matthew: Kim’s book helps to explain the roots of racism toward the Asian American Pacific Islander community and how to support our Asian American family, friends, and neighbors. A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate is immediately available to all as a free e-book at AKidsBookAbout.com.
Kim: So with all the rise in anti-Asian hate, I was just getting frustrated that not that many people in my community were saying anything, were speaking up about it.
And so I was talking to my husband about it and, and we know Jelani. Um, we,
Matthew: That’s Jelani Memory, author of A Kids Book About Racism and founder of A Kids Book About.
Kim: We go back a while and he just sent the text message to Jelani and Jelani suggested that maybe we should write a book about it together and that's how it happened.
Matthew: Figuring out how to respond when tragic and traumatic events are happening around you can be really difficult for all of us. Often these events don’t make sense because you wouldn’t ever imagine doing something like that yourself. And yet violence against certain communities, including those in the Asian American Pacific Islander community, occur at alarming rates and in nearly every corner of our country and also throughout the world.
Kim: Sometimes it's unintentional. Sometimes people don't know that they're being mean or rude to other people and sometimes they do know. It's just that it's a hard thing to figure out sometimes. It's kind of complicated.
Matthew: It is hard because, much like all forms of racism, anti-Asian hate is not always obvious or intentional. Sometimes people are acting on their biases, meaning that they’re showing preference for one group of people over another because of how they look or dress, what language they speak, or really any other reason.
Kim: Growing up, some kids would ask me, “Hey, where are you? Where are you from? Are you from China? Japan? Korea?” And those are like the most common Asian countries that kids know. But when I tell them, “Oh, I'm from Vietnam.” They're like, “Oh, okay. Like, that's cool. But I don't know where that is.” They're not trying to be rude or anything, but they just don't know. There's so much more Asian countries and Asian cultures out there than just, you know, three countries.
Or as a kid, they would make fun of me for my name. My name sounds funny.
My real name is Thu Kim Pham, but I don't want to go by Thu cause that sounds weird and it's not common. It's not like a beautiful girl's name, like Karen or Crystal or I don't know Michelle, so I just wanted to blend in and I decided to go by my middle name to make it easier.
Matthew: A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate begins this way:
“Hi, my name is Thu Kim Pham. But I just go by Kim. That wasn’t always the case. When I was little, I went by my first name, Thu. But kids would often make fun of me because of my name. They thought it sounded funny. So I decided it would be easier to go by my middle name, Kim. That might not sound like a big deal… But it was to me. I couldn’t go by my own name without someone laughing at me or pronouncing it wrong on purpose. But it wasn’t just my name they made fun of. It was me. My food. (They thought it smelled funny.) How I looked. (They said I looked weird.) Where I came from (they thought it was too far). And my language. (They couldn’t understand me.)”
As I let that opening sink in with you, I want to ask you, listener, how does thinking about acts of anti-Asian hate make you feel?
Soleil: It genuinely breaks me to reflect on how cruel people in this world can be to others.
Kim: It makes me feel really angry and it makes me really sad that that's happening right now. We live in 2021 and it just confuses me why we're still hating people based on how we look or our culture.
And I think it touches me now because I have my own kids and I want them to grow up in a world that doesn't have anti-Asian hate. I don't want her to experience this hate and this ugliness. And it just makes me really upset and I want to participate and I want to do something to stop it.
Matthew: We’ll be back in a minute with Kim - and the answer to a question submitted by a listener - right after this quick break.
Matthew: Welcome back to A Kids Book About: The Podcast. On today’s episode we’re talking about anti-Asian hate with Kim Pham, author of A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate, available now and for free at AKidsBokAbout.com.
Before we continue, let’s check in. Take a moment to acknowledge the thoughts that are coming to your brain. Identify the questions that might be coming up. You are exactly where you need to be. You are processing this information and you will probably continue to process long after this episode.
Soleil, one of our listeners, shares her reflection.
Soleil: I know that there are people who want to help and so I hope this can reach them.
I also hope that this reaches the Asian community to let them know that they, too, have a voice.
No matter how silenced they feel, I want to help them feel empowered. I want to do my part to spread awareness about anti-Asian hate so that I can help those who are struggling make themselves heard.
The question I do have is “What are all the ways that I can help the Asian community?” I want to do as much as I can within my power as a 15 year old, but I’m unsure of all of the things that I can do.
Kim: I think we need to be specific about it, to bring awareness to people that it's happening. If we don't call it for what it is, and it just gets lost and in the news or in the grand scheme of things and we were not learning to address that, there is a problem happening right now. So it's definitely important to see it and to recognize it. And, and then hopefully from there we can take action and fix it somehow.
Matthew: Sometimes we make choices to help us navigate the world more easily. To help not be asked so many questions, as rude as these questions might be, because it’s easier to just be accepted than to try and change the question it feels like everyone is asking.
Being asked “Where do you come from?” or “Why does your food look like that?” or “Why don’t you have a normal name?” may feel harmless or innocent or like maybe the person asking is just curious and not trying to be rude. But you know what I think? I think these are also ways of asking “Why are you different from me?”, which can start to feel like being different is wrong. And making someone feel like that, whether you mean to or not, is something you need to be aware of and something you need to question.
Is what you are saying to someone else inviting them in? Or is it pushing them away?
Kim: As a kid, I didn't really think too much about it. I was just trying to be honest and just, “Hey, I'm Vietnamese, I'm from Vietnam.” But I think as you get older and the more times people ask you, then it kind of becomes like, “Why do they keep asking me this? Why does it even matter where I come from?”
And as a kid, it's not like it comes from a place of trying to be mean or anything. Kids just honestly wouldn’t know and that's that's about it. But as, as an adult, it becomes a little more complex, I guess. I don’t know. I’m still trying to process that.
Matthew: Kim is an adult and these interactions that started back when she was a young child are still things that she questions. And so when we talk about experiencing anti-Asian hate, you can tell it’s something that Kim is still trying to wrap her thoughts around.
Kim: I have experienced it in a backhanded way or just like, “Oh, I didn't know” kind of way, but nothing to the point where it's like directed at me or like where I'm told to like “go back to where you come from” or where there's physical violence directed at me. So, so yes I have, but just not like very overtly and openly.
Matthew: Kids, I don’t know how much about this topic you’ve heard before. And grownups who might be listening, I don’t know how much you’ve shared or if you’ve shared at all. I am the dad of a 6 year old and a 10 year old and we have only started to have these conversations.
We talk about the terrible treatment of Chinese railroad workers in the 1800s. We talk about the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. We talk about our past president using harmful nicknames for the Coronavirus to blame a people and a nation for this virus rather than blaming the virus itself. And we talk about the horrific events in Atlanta, GA on March 16, 2021 when a white man targeted Asian-owned businesses.
And it never gets easier to talk about. And as their dad I always wonder if I said enough or if they understood what I shared. We know you’re ready to talk about these big topics, kids, but for those grownups who are not quite sure how or where to start, Kim offers this advice.
Kim: I think my advice would be to just try and remember a time when you were treated unfairly and just share it with your child. It doesn't have to be anything big, just something small where you can talk about how it made you feel and what the other person said or did to you. Just be able to provide a safe environment to talk about these things, I would say.
And honestly, just be real, you know? Kids will understand. And then you can just go from there and maybe you'll find something in common with your kids.
With my parents coming over from Vietnam, there's like a language and cultural barrier. And so they're coming over to America, not speaking English very well. And then my primary language is only speaking English, so it's kind of already hard to communicate to my parents what's going on and how do I explain this to them where they can understand.
And then another part of it is I'm, I'm also really like shy and introverted. So that's another layer.
And then for my parents, they sacrificed a lot to come over to America. And so I feel like it's my responsibility to be a good daughter and to get good grades and that's all that matters, you know? Like nothing else really matters. So just study hard and work hard and you'll make us happy.
We're not really a family that discusses, um, hard topics or really talks about anything difficult. So to talk about racism or anything else that happens at school or anywhere else, it's really difficult.
Matthew: None of this easy. And how one family works can be really different from the next family. Not right or wrong, just different.
But you know what?
You know what feels right. And you know what feels wrong or false or hurtful of untrue. And when you get that feeling, listen to it.
Kim: I just want to say, if you experience any racism, don't, don't keep it to yourself. Please talk to someone about it. An adult or friend. Just share about it. Just give voice to your experience and make sure that you're seen and heard and someone will listen to you.
Matthew: Thank you to Kim Pham, author of A Kids Book About Anti-Asian Hate, for joining us today. And thanks to our very special kid voice for helping make this episode what it is.
Soleil: Hi. My name is Soleil. I am 15 years old and I live in Wisconsin. Currently some of my favorite things to do are play Genshin Impact, listen to music, and read.
Matthew: Thank you, Soleil! If you want to be on a future episode of A Kids Book About: The Podcast or if you have a question you’d like us to consider, have a grownup email us at email@example.com and we’ll send you the details.
A Kids Book About: the Podcast is written, edited, and produced by me, Matthew Winner, with help from Chad Michael Snavely and the team at Sound On Studios. Our executive producer is Jelani Memory. And this show was brought to you by A Kids Podcast About.
Subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, and wherever podcasts are found, and if you liked this episode, consider sharing it with a friend, teacher, or grownup.
Join us next week for a conversation about Mindfulness with A Kids Book About author Caverly Morgan.