Our nation is set to welcome Donald Trump as President tomorrow, and everything in me mourns- not because I fear him but because he’s become a catalyst to unleash the ugliness within.
I felt concussed most of November trying to sort through what had happened. I felt betrayed by those who share my faith, scared for those whose well-being and lives were being threatened because they were seen and labeled as outsiders. I was despairing and felt hopeless that a nation that boasts of progress is still so backwards.
I watched Obama’s farewell speech the only way I knew I could- alone with a box of tissues and a cup of hot tea. I was expecting to be inspired, to hear him call us to justice, to get me riled up and ready to face what’s to come. But his speech wasn’t a fiery sermon. It didn’t get me on my feet shouting hallelujahs and amens. Instead it was a heartfelt reflection of where we are and how we can move forward from here, and though it was inspiring, it made me wonder if having hope in people is too naive.
I’ve been reading blogs* and tweets about #Ferguson to hear the real story, and I’ve been wrestling with whether or not I should write about it. At first I didn’t know if I could voice my opinion since I’m neither black nor white, but I decided I have to say something because this is a HUMAN issue and the Asian-American voice is too quiet. *Read this, this, and this.
DISCLAIMER: my experience as a Korean-American having been born and partially raised in the U.S. does not represent all Asian-Americans. The following are my convictions from what I’ve seen in my own life and my community. Also, I’ve had my share of ignorant remarks said to and about me because of the way I look, but it does not compare to what the black community goes through constantly. This article shares one perspective from an Asian-American, but I wanted to add my voice to the conversation as well.
First of all, just in case you weren’t aware, racism is alive and well. Prejudice against people who are different from you in skin color or socioeconomic status is still a huge problem. I don’t foresee an end to it because this world is broken, but there is hope for change if we don’t turn a blind eye to the injustices that happen.
I will be honest. Racism and prejudice is often passed from one generation to the next, and I am not an exception. I’m not going to write about that now- I’ll save that for another time. Instead I wanted to write an extension of what I read here on white privilege.
Someone once told me that Asians are viewed as just below white people in terms of status and privilege, and for the most part, I think it’s true. Most people assume that I’m smart (especially in the math department) and that I’m demure and soft-spoken. No one would ever peg me as someone who is troubled or has had problems with the law. I’ve never had an issue in getting hired at a job or seen as incompetent because of my skin color. This puts me in an awkward position. I’m not white, but I get to experience a lot of white privilege. By the way, I’m not the brightest at math, and I’m definitely not demure. I may be soft-spoken in some situations, but that comes from being raised in the Asian culture and not who I am naturally.
This was never a big issue for me before (obviously since it is a ‘privilege’), but it will soon be. My husband and I want to adopt, and we hope to adopt trans-racially through our state’s foster system. In addition, my brother-in-law is Ghanian-American, and when he and my sister start a family, the ‘Asian Privilege’ will most likely not be passed down to their children.
SO WHERE IS OUR VOICE IN ALL OF THIS?
We should ALL be outraged about what’s been happening this week and for decades in communities like Ferguson, Missouri. We haven’t been outraged enough in the Asian- American community, or if we are, we don’t talk about it enough. I will be the first to admit that I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to talk about it because it makes me uncomfortable. I grew up in a mostly Asian bubble, and this was never something we discussed in my circle of friends or with family. BUT THIS CANNOT BE ANYMORE. More conversations need to happen, and I want to be a part of it. I want to listen to different voices on this, and I want to know how the black community feels about mine. I want my kids (both biological and future adopted) to understand the reality of the world they live in, and I want to teach them how they could be more compassionate, kind, and hope-giving. I want our churches to be more aware and really live out the reconciliation work of Jesus.