Race is Something
The subject of race has become a hot topic this week due to accusations that Rachel Dolezal, who stepped down as President of the NAACP, isn’t black.
Race isn’t a topic I chat about often, especially here in the Midwest, but here goes.
I owe it to my family and home environment that I didn’t really see race until I started school. Everyone was the same.
I remember the first time I felt racism. It was in elementary school. The kid who sat behind me tapped my shoulder, and used his pointer fingers to pull his eyes into slits. “I’m you!” he said.
“What?” I looked at him kind of befuddled, not really understanding. That’s not what I looked like. He had to explain to me that thin, slanted eyes was what all Asians had. Is that how I really look?
From that point on, I noticed it more and more: how I was different from the other kids, my skin color, my lunch, what my parents taught me.
We are not the same.
When I moved from one of the most diverse places in the country to prominently white middle America, I didn’t really know what to expect. Wisconsin has a lot of nice and hospitable people, probably the nicest I’ve ever met, and fortunately I don’t feel much discrimination.
But it can be the subtlest of things. I definitely notice when I’m the token Asian walking around.
I do participate in some self-deprecating racist humor from time to time, and sometimes I think that I’m sacrificing a little of my culture and upbringing in the process. Those Chinese stereotypes? A lot of those are important to me and who I am.
But sometimes, it’s easier to fit in, more comfortable to fit in… No one likes to say that, but it’s true.
Gives me some doubt to that age-old saying, “we’re all in this together.”
Sometimes, it feels like we’re not.