As an Asian American, Lina Hoshino is not unfamiliar with racist taunts and threats. But a recent incident of profiling has her feeling both angry and fortunate.
Recently, as Black Lives Matter protests echoed in the streets, I was at my favorite hardware store looking for hinges for the counter at our bakery. Like many brick-and-mortar businesses, we are adapting our space for the pandemic, and I have been going there frequently. As I was leaving, two male employees approached and asked me to open my bag, saying that a customer saw me stealing. I was stunned. Until that moment, as a middle-aged, Asian American woman, I never dreamed I’d be profiled as a shoplifter.
I’ve experienced racism in this town. Strangers on the street have called me an invader, a coronavirus, and an Oriental b-word. But this was different. Someone had followed me in the shop, watching my every move as I searched for hardware.
I was enraged, hurt and then sad. Sad because I felt my world, already contracted by the pandemic, become even smaller. I would have to cross this store off the short list of places where I feel safe.
Then I thought about how fortunate I was. Though I cursed and talked back to the store employees, they did not call the police. They must have felt that a 5-foot-1-inch Asian woman was not a threat. This incident could have ended differently had I been a Black man.