On March 23, CNN interviewed Eric Nam to discuss anti-Asian violence in the U.S. after eight people were gunned down at Atlanta-area spas last week, which included six women of Asian descent.
Eric Nam was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where the murders took place.
Eric Nam said, "It's been a long time coming. They've been a plenty of warning signs. Unfortunately though, they all went unnoticed; they landed on deaf ears. It's taken such an incredibly tragic and horrific event for this to really hit the national and international news. I wish this could have been done in a better situation, but this is where we are right now."
The new anchor Michael Holmes responded, "Have you personally encountered the sort of things that are now being discussed?"
Eric Nam answered, "Yes, myself as well as other Asian Americans across the nation have probably witnessed and experienced lots of the hate that we are currently seeing and being brought to the forefront of the conversation."
He continued, "I think it comes from a place of ignorance, lack of education and discourse. There are so many moments where I feel targeted or discriminated against. There are times when people are casually being racist too. It's like, 'Is this racism? I'm not sure if it is. I don't quite know how to identify it though.'"
Then, Eric Nam mentioned that many Asian Americans feel like they are "perpetual foreigners" in their own country.
Eric Nam said, "The U.S. has incredible history, but also a very dark one. A large part of the Asian American experience has had countless potent moments of that darkness that was kind of swept under the rug which we haven't really properly addressed."
He resumed, "There are a lot of historical moments we can point to and discuss, but in the sense of the perpetual foreigners, it can be casual as like, 'Where are you from?', 'Where are you really from?', it's always been Atlanta for me, but it's as if I'm not from there."
He went on, "I also commonly get questions such as, 'Where did you learn English?', 'How is your English so good?' English is my first language, but whenever I'm asked those questions, I feel like I don't belong here. Thousands of us in the community have dealt with this our entire lives. That's why a great deal of this racism can be very casual, and it can kind of sneak up on us in many ways."
At the end of the interview, Eric Nam briefly touched upon the response in Asia regarding the rise in anti-Asian violence in the U.S.
Eric Nam commented, "For most, there's hesitancy to think of the U.S. positively. When Asians plan to travel or study in the U.S., people around them would say things like, 'Are you sure? It's a little unsafe.', 'I hope you have a safe trip.', or even 'Do you have to go?'"
He added, "These instances are really rekindling and adding fuel to the fire in terms of that sentiment. It's very unfortunate considering how much I love this country. To see it shown in that light has been really disheartening for me."
#AsianAmericans feel like "perpetual foreigners" in their own country, says Atlanta born #K-pop star Eric Nam @ericnamofficial And he says warning signs of anti Asian sentiment have been there - just not heeded.— Michael Holmes (@holmescnn) March 22, 2021
#StopAsianHate #StopAAPIHate #EricNam pic.twitter.com/QrMJSBbRqU
Following the shootings in Atlanta, numerous protests and vigils calling for an end to violence against Asian Americans have been held around the U.S.
(Credit= 'holmescnn' Twitter, 'ericnam' Instagram)