“You’re not half Asian half black. You’re just black.”
“To the world, you’re not half Asian half black. You are just black. You’re going to have to go out there and be 200% better than anyone else, and hope for the best.”
That was the pep talk I had with my son, my firstborn, the morning of his first day of high school. My children are half Cambodian, half black (from St Vincent).
This was back in 2012 in the very cosmopolitan city of Montreal. My son was the only black student in his school throughout his high school years.
My son was a good student at a well-ranked school. Well liked by peers and teachers. Respectful. Captain of the basketball and volleyball teams. Never smoked, drank, or tried drugs. Not even a late slip.
But nobody outside cares how well we does in school. Or how much his teachers and friends like him. Or that he’s perfectly punctual. To the outside world, he is just a black kid. And there were, and will continue to be, racially-motivated incidents.
Ask any successful black person the hurdles they had to jump through and the obstacles they had to face. The comments, the judgement, the assumptions, the presumptions, the “routine” questioning from the police. It doesn’t matter how wealthy or successful you are because to the world, you are just black.
It doesn’t need to be violent to be racist.
It doesn’t need to make headline news to be racist.
Racism doesn’t have to slap you in the face.
Racism can be subtle.
It doesn’t hurt less.
It‘s not less important.
Racism. Is. Just. Racism.
Your black colleagues, employers, employees — ask them about their experiences. Racism, and systemic racism, are still alive and real.
Let’s be real. George Floyd would still be alive if he was white. So would Ahmaud Arbery.
My youngest son is heading to high school in September. As much as the world has changed, it has stayed the same. We need to do better for our children. We need them to teach us how to be better.