wait, is that me?
This is my personal attempt to understand and process my own emotions and thoughts over the recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd.
disclaimer: still processing
In short, I’m angry and sad. Like really fckn angry, and really fckn sad. I’ll get physically heated and/or tear up when reading, watching, thinking, etc. anything around these murders. There are layers of emotions that still need to be unpacked. **I do have initial, emotionally-charged thoughts. There is an absolutely repulsive ability to devalue and take a human life based on the color of their skin. There is an absurd amount of injustice served to Black/African Americans based on their skin color. And disgusting amounts of privilege and power given to whites & especially white cops because of their skin color.
Sometimes it even seems hopeless — like how/why the fck are we still here as a country? Why the fck are there humans oppressing and killing other humans based on the color of their skin? And how the fck are they getting away with it because of the color of their skin?
As an Asian-American female from Orange County, CA and living in San Francisco, CA, I do not know what it’s like to be a minority that fears life based on my skin color. We face our own forms of racism, but there are levels and degrees of oppression and prejudice that I will never have to experience because of my race or what I look like. I’ve realized that is privilege — I am privileged.
The murder of George Floyd brought up a new set of emotions this week for me. Tou Thao is the Asian American cop who stood by as Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd. When I first saw the photo from Hari Kondabolu’s post that read “This image literally & metaphorically depicts how we Asians reinforce anti-Black racism & systemic white supremacy;” I felt the heat again, and the tears again. But there was a new set of emotions this time: disappointment, embarrassment, guilt, shame.
I grew up in Orange County (psa; people here don’t call it “The OC”) and went to predominantly white, upper-middle class, private schools my entire life. Went to UCSB with a majority white student population. Deep down, I always found myself trying to “fit in” with the white kids. I took immense pride in being labeled as a “white-washed Asian” or a “banana.” I actually think that I still do (wow, that’s terrifying to admit). Halfway through my freshman year at UCSB, I finally began to own my identity as an Asian American — and became really fckn proud of being Asian American. Hell! I’m still proud af that I’m an Asian American woman.
So this week, my ethnic and cultural pride was in deep conflict with my feelings around Thao’s involvement in the murder of George Floyd. I felt disappointed that he would stand around while a human’s life was being taken at the hands of his oppressor. I felt embarrassed that this is how the world sees Asian Americans — passive, standing around doing nothing. I then felt shame and guilt because wait, is that me? Have I stood around while racist conversations took place — even jokingly — because I wanted to fit in? Or didn’t want to cause a scene, get weird looks, etc.? Would I have acted differently?
Full circle: the disappointment and embarrassment is actually tied back to my past self who tried to fit in with white people/white culture — and only spoke up when I deemed appropriate. It’s tied to the initial stereotypical thoughts that I’ve had when seeing a Black/African American — also terrifying to admit.
FCK, so the embarrassment and disappointment I feel is toward myself. I claim to be an ally, a minority who fights with and for minorities, who is willing to speak up in certain spaces — safe spaces — but not all spaces. So have I, like Thao, reinforced systemic white supremacy in my life? Or perhaps worse — will I become apathetic because it’s easier for me — completely ignoring and disregarding the oppressive reality that my Black/African American friends, community, etc. are living in daily?
Personally, I still have a lot to unpack. I need safe spaces to process, talk (or type), and learn. I also realized I felt/feel guilty for not educating myself more earlier. I feel guilty when I forget about these murders until the next one happens. I do believe that there’s grace in all those areas, but also action needs to take place.
For me, it’s most important and critical now to be better and do better. To learn, discuss/educate, and do my part — which will be another process to explore and discover what that truly looks like.
George Floyd, I wish WE would have been better.
Where I’m starting: