Lunar New Year is the most important celebration of the year for people of East Asian descent all over the world. I was so incredibly excited to drive this brand-new 2022 Porsche Macan wrapped in a Year of the Tiger motif. I imagined living my Crazy Rich Asian fantasy as I celebrated this holiday with my family, being a boss and driving my way through the holiday with style and grace.
Getting behind the wheel of this metallic gold tiger-striped SUV should have been a joyful experience that would see me spreading joy like a Chinese Santa Claus. The messages decorating this car are all about happiness and health in the Year of the Tiger, wishing passersby peace and prosperity.
Despite the cheerful occasion and the Macan’s exuberant appearance, I couldn’t shake the sneaking suspicion that I would return to it in a parking lot to see it vandalized. I also had this sinking feeling that someone extra unhinged would run me right off the road.
Over the course of the past two years, the pandemic has rattled our collective consciousness. It has been a scary time for everyone, but as a Chinese person, I felt a heightened sense of fear. My news feed was packed with heartbreaking stories of Asian people getting physically and verbally attacked for much less than driving around in a flashy Lunar New Year-themed Porsche. At the beginning of COVID, I was scared to leave my home, not because I was afraid of getting sick, but because I feared being attacked by an agitated racist with a bunch of misplaced anger.
When Crazy Rich Asians debuted as the first Hollywood movie with a fully Asian cast that I’ve ever seen, it empowered me and many others to reconnect with our heritage and stand proud for the first time. Suddenly, I felt like being Chinese was a strength, and I made a conscious decision never to let anyone make me feel like it was something to be ashamed of. But suddenly, COVID put us back into hiding. I felt legitimately uneasy to be moving through the world expressing my heritage this loudly, driving around this gold tiger-striped Porsche. I was again fearful that having the audacity to simply exist as I am was enough to put me in danger.
The good news is that I was able to drive this Lunar New Year Porsche around for three days without it getting vandalized or without me getting attacked; but the fact I had those fears in the first place shows how racism affects people. Racism manifests itself in big and small ways. Racism is fear. That fear is tangible and affects how we move through the world.
Making it all worthwhile, however, some Asian folks saw me in this gold Porsche and gave a thumbs up. They smiled and wished me a Happy New Year. They told me how cool it was that I was doing this. They saw me living loudly and spreading joy. These interactions made it all worth it. The visibility and power of an Asian person proudly displaying their heritage is healing. I drove the Macan through Chinatown in Toronto, with its distinctive fragrance, chaotic energy, and busyness leading up to Lunar New Year filling me with joy, reminding me of my childhood, and making me feel safe and at home surrounded by people who share something sacred with me.
And again I was reminded that love is stronger than hate. To anyone who is marginalized and made to feel “not normal,” let’s reclaim our joy and live as loudly as we want without fear. I think everyone deserves that. Here’s me, a first-generation Chinese Canadian automotive editor still getting comfortable with her identity, wishing you all a successful, joyful, healthy, and prosperous Year of the Tiger.