“I never want that to happen because then these things get cyclical,” Bassett continues. “It shapes their point of view, their thoughts, their opinions. So when possible, Bassett walks up to the family. “It’s okay,” she said calmly to the child, showing him her prosthesis. “Do you have any questions? Do you want to see how it moves?” Sometimes, “Do you want to touch it?”
Bassett also hopes to use his platform to increase Asian representation. “You don’t see a lot of Paralympic athletes who have a lot of opportunity, and Asians are definitely extremely under-represented in media, entertainment and sports,” she said. She says she has struggled to cope with the nationwide rise in anti-Asian hate crimes. “The most recent violence has been heartbreaking and devastating,” she said. “When it all started, I thought I would have liked America to love Asians as much as they love our food. Because they are happy to like sushi, ramen, Chinese food and so on.
At the same time, she is grateful for the growing cultural conversations about Asian identity. “What’s great about this movement is that I feel like this narrative is changing. We’re not the silent, submissive group just to be quiet. And you see voices speaking out and talk about their experiences, voices, more and more, including his.
Throughout our conversation, I noticed Bassett’s unwavering ability to empathize with people from seemingly all walks of life. She takes a sincere moment to thank me for sharing that I am fascinated by trauma because I live with it too. She supervises young para-athletes who run in the same way alongside able-bodied runners. (“I say,” It doesn’t matter how early or late the other girls are. Just run your own race. “”) Discussing the rise in anti-Asian hatred during the pandemic, she tells a story of ‘she trying to quietly cough in a grocery store after a run and get yelled at by another customer who asked if she was “from Wuhan”. Of the racist attack, Bassett simply says, “I felt very bad for her. It [has] a business and they lost a ton of money and their businesses had to shut down. I understand where she came from.
Bassett describes herself as “extremely aware” of the many identities she represents – “the intersectionality of so many different things, being an immigrant, being a woman, being adopted, being Asian, having a disability” – and it is clear that even though it may be difficult, she has found peace with the idea that whether she is spending her day or representing her country on the world stage, she often does so in the hope of speaking on behalf of different communities . She says, for example, that she tries to be nice to people, even when they say rude things to her, because she doesn’t want bad interaction to shape how a person views people with disabilities. . “I don’t think people realize how difficult it is to always be so balanced,” she says. “Sometimes the heaviness that comes with being a pioneer in some way is that you don’t necessarily have the ability to make the same number of blunders or mistakes as everyone else.”
Because of her willingness to carry the burden of being an educator, spokesperson, and role model for many underrepresented identities, it can be easy to see Bassett as an infinitely strong inspirational figure. But the reality, of course, is much more complicated, and yet much simpler. Like many people, Bassett deals with her trauma, faces the life of a survivor, and is committed to self-improvement. Lucky for all of us, she generously shares what she has learned along the way.
“It’s all part of my story,” she says. “It’s a reminder of the trauma, the loss, the pain I suffered physically, emotionally and mentally. But it is also the very thing that is powerful and important, and can even be really beautiful in someone. It tells a very important story of being a warrior, a survivor, a fighter.