Reflection on Charleston: Eliminating Racism from Relationships
These are some of the thoughts that have been biting at me for a while, but especially with the advent of the Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof and his motives coming to light, I thought this would be a ideal time to voice my adamant concerns regarding race in relationships.
According to this preliminary article on the motives behind Roof’s rampage, Roof’s cousin presumably states that the main impetus that pushed Roof over the edge was when Roof discovered “a girl he liked [started] dating a black guy”. From his festering racist thoughts to this final thrust that pushed him over the edge, Roof’s motives became clear to me.
Over the past year and a half, I’ve had a similar experience, chasing after a girl who turned out not to be the person I thought she was. I liked her for who she could have been, instead of who she actually was, and I ended up discovering that her reasoning for not liking me wasn’t the typical “we’re not compatible” or “I only see you as a friend”, but it was “why can’t a white guy like me instead?”.
As an Asian-American who was born in the United States, I’ve been slowly learning that there is generally a negative stigma surrounding how Asian-American males are perceived in society.
Think about it this way — for example, when was the last time you’ve seen Asian males in movies depicted as something other than a supporting role, stereotypical martial artist, or enemy drug lord? This negative stigma that surrounds Asian-American males is only one of the few racial stereotypes in American culture that helps explain the fetishization of races in society and the underlying, yet prevalent racism that exists in the back of our minds.
For me, finding out that this girl would inherently rather choose someone else over me based solely on the color of his skin broke my heart and as a result, I’ve been slowly learning to cope with it, step by step. For me, I’ve realized that I don’t blame her directly, but rather condemn the decades and centuries of perpetuating racial stereotypes. For those of you reading this, you can probably sense my frustration regarding this issue, but understand that it’s directed towards the stereotypes that still exist and influence us both directly and indirectly rather than at the people who hold these beliefs.
In this modern age, because many of us young millennials are trying to fight against the remnants of inequality, fetishization of races and racism can’t co-exist. If some of us inherently believe that one race is better than another and that interracial relationships, more hate crimes and race-charged incidents like this are bound to occur.
At the simplest level, relationships should really be based on what we were told when we were younger — that looks aren’t everything. The bottom line is that we are all humans, and that we should admire internal qualities, instead of the external ones that we can see.
Originally published at www.derekmei.com on June 21, 2015.