Kat Zhou 💭

Kat Zhou 💭



Having lived in Stockholm for nearly 3 years, I am completely unsurprised and wholly disgusted by the swing towards fascism in Sweden. As an Asian-American woman, I have never experienced as much racism in my life until I moved here. This country is xenophobic as hell.

I moved here just before the COVID pandemic took off in Europe. In the time that I have resided here, I’ve endured everything from verbal attacks to physical intimidation, all explicitly tied to my race.

I’ve been subject to countless microaggressions. I’ve been coughed on by a group of teenage boys. I’ve been tutted at by old ladies who somehow are not afraid of white, unmasked Swedes, but are terrified of me.

In February of this year, two, white Swedish men cornered me outside a train station in the city center and made obscene gestures - mocking my eyes and flicking me off. Multiple white passersby saw this and did not intervene, even though it was clear I was distressed.

I reported this incident to the police, sending the photos I had captured afterwards of the men inside the train station, as well as the timestamp for when they took the train. I even included a consenting witness in my report. At first, the police told me they would help.

Weeks went by and I heard nothing. I’d check in periodically, but was told excuses - my investigator changed, all interpreters were busy, etc. Two months later, I got notice that the case was dropped. They never found an interpreter or contacted my witness. They never tried.

When I asked around, peers advised me to wait it out and perhaps issue another report. I have yet to do so because the first time was traumatic. I was told to keep the photos of my harassers to myself, because Sweden’s defamation laws protect abusers and compromise victims.

For the better part of this year, I’ve been silently raging, biting my tongue, knowing that those bigoted assholes are out and about. With the publication of the new government's proposals, it is clear as day who this country aims to protect, and who it aims to harm.

So I don’t give a fuck about keeping quiet anymore. Here are the photos I took. Take a good hard look at these racists in Sweden.

There was another incident this April which I was able to film, where this lady calls me “Asian trash.” I was walking on the other side of the street, minding my own business, which was enough to merit racist taunts from her. Take a good hard look at this racist in Sweden.

I don’t typically post this stuff on my account. It wasn't until I showed the video to my mom (a very tough cookie and an immigrant herself) who gasped and exclaimed "how evil is she, to say that to you," that it truly hit me. I'm done complying. No more protecting my attackers.

For the better part of the last year, I’ve been far more afraid than I should be while walking alone. And I’ve had enough. Especially as I’m watching this absurd right-wing government peddle fascist and blatantly racist tropes about why they need more "law and order."

Let me be clear, I am not advocating for more policing. I don't trust the police here. In the eyes of the police in Sweden, my attack was not deemed an attack, the white perpetrators did not fit their narrative, and I was not seen as a victim worthy of help.

Increasing police presence and utilizing “stop and frisk” methods, as proposed by the new government, will not help people like me, and will only terrorize innocent communities of color.

I’m putting this all out here, not for your sympathy, but because I am fucking angry and because I’m aware of my privilege as an American in the tech industry here. It is because of this privilege that I am able to speak up.

I’m what the right-wing in Sweden designates as a “good immigrant,” the kind that has earned proximity to whiteness via my high salary and the high amount I pay in taxes. It is crucial to note, the "good vs. bad" immigrant framing is harmful. All of us are worthy of a safe home.

I shudder to imagine how many racist attacks happen to people of color with far less privilege. For those who have reported hate crimes, I wonder how many of them have been ignored.

And for those who haven’t reported, either out of fear or because they didn’t know they could, I wonder how they are doing. Have they swallowed their rage? Have they moved on? Is that even possible? There are so little resources for victims of hate crimes in Sweden.

For all the inevitable and racist cynics who might retort, “if you don’t like it here, go back to your own country,” first, fuck you. And secondly, sure, I can definitely do that. In fact, I just might. I didn’t ask to be in Sweden.

Frankly, Sweden needed me more than I needed it. The company that generously relocated me from US actually recruited me for over half a year and practically begged me to relocate here because they were unable to find anyone qualified enough in all of Sweden to do my job.

However, not every immigrant to this country has my privilege - of being woo'd over, or of being able to return home. Many people fled from their previous homes due to dangerous conditions, which makes the “send them back” proposals from the right-wing government even more cruel.

Sharing this provocation from @ProfDaveAndress because I believe it. In the face of a more diverse society, the white Swedish hegemony actually prefers eroding its social democracy and climate initiatives in exchange for a neoliberal, fascist order that ranks whiteness on top.

No, the immigrants and refugees in Sweden have not failed to assimilate. They have tried their best to adapt in a racist and flawed society that at best, pities them, and at worst, hates them, all while benefiting off their labor.

The white Swedish system, the birthplace of eugenics, has failed and continues to fail to see people of color as equal humans.

What a shame that the reaction of this country in the face of failed policies is to capitulate to xenophobia, as opposed to interrogating and confronting the deep-seated racism that exacerbated such failed policies.

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