The poem Anthem for Doomed Youth by Wilfred Owen resonates with me this week. Followed by the Orlando,FL Nightclub shooting, two mishaps occurred in St.Paul,MN and Dallas,TX. I am writing on behalf of the Asian community; I am writing on behalf of the #BlackLivesMatter movement; I am writing on behalf of world peace. Though some may argue that it’s unjustifiable for a Korean immigrant to speak for the African American community, it’s important for me to let out/articulate the frustrations I’ve felt over the past few years as a representative of the minority population in the U.S., as an Asian immigrant, and as an ally of African American friends. Luckily, I’ve never experienced direct racism, but I’ve experienced micro-aggressions in public. Some examples include: “Do you eat cats and dogs?”, “What do you think about communism?”, “One day, I really want to visit North Korea.”, “Your pronunciations are odd.”, “Oh, I love Asian cuisine, especially sushi.”, “I can’t read Chinese.”, “You’re not very Asian.”, “When are you going back to Korea?”, etc.
Perhaps, I’m a sensitive person who thinks the comments are very racist. After all, the president of the United States of America is Black; my younger sibling made it to the front cover of Edina public school district’s pamphlet; the number of Hispanics enrolled in college has tripled since 1993, right? Because media often portrays American society as being inclusive, many americans are desensitized to racism. In addition, some people refuse to acknowledge the presence of racism. And I think that’s a big problem.
Take the Young Scholar Program as an example. According to the Sun Current News in 2013, the Edina public school district established the Young Scholar Program to prepare elementary students who are in a historically underrepresented population for advanced coursework. When my nine-year old sibling successfully enrolled in the program, I was really happy for her; I thought the school was doing a great job to eradicate the achievement gap in Edina public schools until I read the Sun Current’s report from 2013. In the report, it indicates that twenty-four percent of students in Young Scholars have qualified for the district’s gifted education services. Why just the twenty-four percent of students? Why can’t all Young Scholars be qualified for the district’s gifted education services? What happens if my sister is in a disadvantage to be qualified? This may sound very pessimistic; however, I started to dislike the fact that the school was separating smart minority kids from the rest of their classmates. It is worth questioning whether if the program is supporting the kids to feel more equitable.
In January, I heard a remarkable senior speech that rang a bell in my heart. This admirable female student explained why everyone should support the #BlackLivesMatter movement. In her closing statement, she stated,
When I say #BlackLivesMatter, I think of my future and how I won’t be able to get a certain job because my skin is darker than his. I think of my future kids and how I want to apologize to them at advance, because nurturing your child, having them ripped based on their looks is something that I cannot bear the thought of. I encourage you to push for that change and stand in solidarity with me. You don’t need to protest actively everyday. Doing little things such as recognizing privilege and calling out the racism you see is a great step. Hopefully, in about ten years, when we are planning our families, I don’t have to second guess myself in fear of losing them.
Now, her speech is a perfect example of how a smart female student who graduated from one of the most prestigious college preparatory schools in the U.S. even feels threatened under the system we live in. So, yes, racism is real. And I’m thankful that I’ve only experienced micro-aggression but also I’m devastated that there’s going to be another minority kid in this country tonight who will be scared to even call the police in a life-threatening situation, because the kid doesn’t want to be misinterpreted by anyone because of his/her/their skin color.
There’s just so much hatred, disgust, pain in America right now. Ultimately, when the Dallas shooting incident occurred, even though I couldn’t completely sympathize with the sniper’s sentiment, it became clear that hate against a particular group will result in a backlash. We cannot let terrorism dictate our society because no one deserves to fall into hopelessness. During a crisis, it’s so easy to think about ways to run away from reality, so in certain cases, some people even decide to leave their home. Whenever we’re under a sensation of fear, it’s important to remember to think of ways to combat the fear, instead of trying to run away even before it has directly affected you. Don’t surrender before it’s even started.
I came to the realization that I often reference Leandra Medine; I’m just going to do that again. In her earlier episodes of Monocycle, she talked about the importance of kindness when caught in tough situations. According to Medine,
Kindness reinstalls faith in our weakness; kindness is a necessity in life because we need humanity in order to survive; kindness elicits fearlessness in us.
I want to challenge everyone of you to practice the following things starting this new week: recognize your privilege, call out the racism you see, and be fucking kind, because no one wants to be endangered. I pray once again for justice and peace in the cold-blooded massacre.