Complete terror is how Cal Poly ethnic studies professor, C.T. Aradanas describes his experience as the victim of a series of hate crimes.
The crimes to which he is referring to occured in Oct. and Nov. of 2020, near the presidential election, by one individual at Aradanas’s residence in Lompoc, about an hour south of San Luis Obispo.
“[The crimes involved] burning a swastika on my front lawn, burning MAGA on my front lawn, 4 BB holes through windows of my 2 bedrooms and leaving small piles of litter designed to look like zoo animal food scraps,” Aradanas said.
His mindset changed as the crimes escalated.
“At first I thought ‘this is normal graffiti.’”
Three times stacks of empty peanut shells left were at his door, which he initially attributed to wild animals. Then banana peels were placed in the tree in his yard, which he thought to be careless littering.
Yet with the burning of MAGA and the swastika, Aradanas realized the reality of the situation and began piecing everything together.
“That’s when I knew, I’m being targeted now, and that’s a very scary feeling,” Aradanas said, “[It all] made sense.”
This was the first overt racist experience Aradanas has dealt with.
“I have never felt it like this in my life and I’m 58,” Aradanas said.
Aradanas said this person did their “racist homework.”
“There used to be human zoos at the turn of the 20th century,” Aradanas said. “Filipinos [and other People of Color] would be in these human zoos, where people would throw food at them.”
Not only that, but these attacks were personal, revealing that the attacker knew Aradanas’ Filipino identity well.
“He was implying that I’m a ‘monkey,’ which is a slur that was used against people of my dad’s generation,” Aradanas said. “He was from a pioneering generation of Filipino immigrants [and] he and other Filipinos were called ‘monkey’ a lot.”
Aradanas installed surveillance cameras which put a stop to the attacks, but the person did one last thing.
“He left a completely intact brand new box of whitening toilet cleanser in my front yard,” he said.
Aradanas felt “total terror.”
“I was living in terror that this person was going to do something worse,” Aradanas said. “For a while I used to check my exhaust pipe in my car to see if it was plugged.”
To the lengths of shooting through his bedroom windows with a BB gun at night, Aradanas said he was fearful of the perpetrator’s intentions.
He said he feared that if Trump had won the 2020 election, the individual would become bolder and bolder.
“I don’t know what they’re capable of doing.”
Regarding the reception from his community, Aradanas felt a lack of sympathy.
“[Others would respond] ‘Oh that’s, that’s too bad. That’s really terrible,’” Aradanas said. “No one was getting the fact that this terrified me. I lived in terror. What’s going to happen to me next?”
The mentality of the model minority myth, where Asians seemingly suffer less racism and have more privilege, was something that hurt Aradanas.
“There’s this assumption that nothing bad ever happens to us, and I resent that,” he said. “And especially at this time I’ve tried to get sympathy, but I haven’t felt supported.
Aradanas said instead of sympathy there’s the idea that because someone is Asian, they’re “doing okay” and their situation “can’t be all that bad.”
He has since reported the incident to the FBI, but they have not responded.
Among other tolls, the attacks have led Aradanas to be more hyper-aware and cautious than before.
“They really wanted to get inside my head and they did,” he said.