But, We Have to Save Them!

To start things off, I’m going to be very clear: racism is a very serious problem and it never really went away, despite what people tell us. If we don’t acknowledge the problem and the severity of it, there will never be change. If we ignore the facts and listen to talking points of how any movement trying to address this problem is a violent and extremist organization, then racism will be a forever problem. This is one topic that there should be no divide on: Racism is bad. It’s wrong. And if you can’t see that it’s a serious problem, you may actually be part of the problem.

I’m a reasonable person. I like to think that I put a great deal of thought into everything I say. I don’t want to be a talking piece for a political party, that recites their beliefs without thinking for myself. I’ve never been one to let someone tell me what I should think. On Facebook, a dear friend posted something about race on my timeline, how to be “less white” and asked my thoughts. I was confused why. He just wanted to get opinions. I gave mine. The moral of that lengthy response: Racism is bad and there should not be any argument there. However, the “race conversation” has to be one that inspires togetherness and change, not division. If you unnecessarily use the labels “white superiority” in a place just for the sake of sounding woke, you end up looking ridiculous to me.

One of the major points I tried to make was that I’m a privileged white girl that can only empathize with the problem, though I admit situations with my own son has made me see the problem closer to home. I can’t presume to know what it feels like when you’re targeted because of your skin color because it’s never happened to me. But, what I can do is listen to see the ways that I can help make the change that needs to happen. Even if it’s by writing words of solidarity for those who suffer injustice. Injustice is the enemy; not race. The minute that we forget that, we lose the fight.

My oldest son and I were talking recently, as he’s very fond of thoughtful conversations and debate. He asked, “Do you think that sometimes people go so far in one direction that they then become racists?” I responded: “Yes. The minute that you think that you have to save those being oppressed or mistreated, you have turned yourself into a racist because that implies a superiority over them. They don’t want to be saved. They want allies to fight with them to solve injustice and create a more equitable society. It’s not our job to save women or anyone else who’s fighting for equality; it’s our job to support their fight without demeaning any party. When you do, you lose the chance to inspire the change that you want to see.” He was satisfied with that answer and agreed.

This savior complex is what gets us in trouble. We keep thinking that people want us to save them. They don’t want some grand white angel to come down and save them from the world; they want your empathy and support to fight the issues that create this unfair world. We seem to have this need to think that we are in some way superior and that we need to save everyone. But it’s not about saving. It’s about changing those institutions that make life unfair. Racial profiling, shoot first/ask questions never. Lack of funding and support in low-income schools. These are the things that need to be changed. The practices that we have just accepted need to change. There’s no saving required. Just fight alongside those who are peacefully trying to change the world into a better place for all of us.

No, Racism Isn’t Dead

Do you know who thinks racism is dead? People who have never experienced racism. Sure, I’m a white Irish girl from a middle class family so of course I haven’t experienced racism towards me. I wasn’t raised to be a racist. I had friends across the spectrum because I didn’t care what you were. I just made friends with people. I may have thought that racism was dead back then because I never saw it. My parents welcomed all of my friends because they trusted my judgement. I couldn’t even fathom that there were racist people out there.

Until I saw it. My first experiences with it happened when I started dating my now husband ages ago. People stared a little as we held hands walking around. I heard him get called some pretty awful names for both Asian people and Hispanic people. Which was hilarious, because he’s not Hispanic at all. But it wasn’t hilarious, because WTF people. He was annoyed, but brushed it off. You could tell this was something he’s definitely dealt with before.

After some time that faded away and I forgot about those incidences. Until this one time when we went voting together after we got married. I was looking around a the line and people walked up, got their ballots, and went on their way. Then my husband walked up and I heard something that I had never heard before. “Can I see your ID please?” I looked around him at the person, trying to figure out if I needed to run back to the car to get my ID because I didn’t have it on me. He was stunned, but pulled out his card and showed them his ID. He got his ballot and walked towards the booth area. I walked up, hesitantly. I gave my address and something strange happened: I didn’t need to show my ID. I didn’t see anyone else pull out their ID in a sea of other people that “looked like me”. I don’t believe in coincidences.

Then, the incident that really shook me. The one where some little girl refused to play with my son because he was a little Chinese boy. That wasn’t the last time that he was referred to as a Chinese boy in a negative way. It probably won’t be the last time he experiences racism because he happens to be part Korean. When I married my husband, I didn’t care about that. I cared that this was someone who treated me well and loved me and my son. I cared that he was my better half. I didn’t think “oh maybe I shouldn’t marry him because he’s different from me and I’m going to birth children who were different”.

So no, racism isn’t dead. Just because you’ve never dealt with it or witnessed it for yourself, doesn’t mean that it isn’t real. Just because you’ve never met a white supremacist, doesn’t mean that there aren’t white supremacists out there. The idea of that is insane to me. Just because they aren’t walking around in white sheets, doesn’t mean that it’s some tin foil conspiracy. It’s dangerous to say things like that, especially when you have such a massive following of people that mistake you for news instead of an opinion guy speaking out of his butt.

In short, racism exists and it’s dangerous to ignore that. As parents, it’s our job to raise our kids not to hate by showing them not to hate. That little girl that was ignoring my boy because he was “Chinese” was too young to become a racist on her own. At that age, she learned that behavior. We can easily stop this problem by teaching our children to be better.

When Racism Attacks

This was not the post that should have happened today. You will get that one tomorrow. In fact, this was the post that I hoped I would never have to write. Sadly, it turns out that hoping was not enough to avoid this. The hope that the world is in a better place is full of disappointment.

On days when my oldest has baseball practice, we all pile in the car to go. We take this opportunity to let our youngest blow off all of that energy. It usually doesn’t work, but at least he has fun? Normally this is uneventful. Yesterday, it was not. To preface this story, this playground is a very diverse one. Off all places, I certainly would not have thought my youngest son’s first brush with racism would be here. I was actually hoping it never would happen, but deep down I knew it was going to happen eventually. But I definitely did not expect it to happen here, at 4 years old, at the hands of a little girl a few years older.

This little girl was playing Frisbee, so naturally Georgie wanted to join in. George is a very sweet and friendly child, everyone who meets him seems to just love him. So being 4 at a park, he tried to join in. Then it happened. “No! I’m not playing with you, Chinese boy.” George was hurt by this and started to cry. We were appalled and very pissed by this. However, George thankfully didn’t realize the true scope of what just happened. He was sad because the girl didn’t let him play. We didn’t expect it because the girl (who was white) was playing with another girl (who was not). But alas, here we are. While calming George down, it was made very clear and loudly that some kids were not raised to have manners and he was immediately removed from the park.

I am not sure if my husband was more mad about the situation itself or the fact that she got the wrong Asian country. Either way, it’s bad but apparently it stings all the more when it isn’t even the right nationality. It seems that being called the wrong nationality is offensive across the board. I couldn’t relate to the situation; I’m a white girl who grew up and currently lives in a middle class neighborhood. I have never experienced racism nor have I ever participated.  I was raised better than that. My husband, on the other hand, is half-Korean. He grew up with this. Even today, he has to deal with racial slurs being tossed his way. I am offended about this for my son’s sake; my husband is offended and completely understands the situation. Thankfully, George didn’t understand this time. But what happens next time?

I don’t blame the little girl. This is something that she would’ve learned from her parents. I blame them entirely for somehow, whether purposefully or inadvertently, teaching her that this type of behavior was perfectly acceptable. I knew this was going to happen to him eventually as we still live in a culture where racism is somehow deemed acceptable. Too many people think that racism is eradicated or that now only white people are victims of racism. No one is safe and this problem is only going to get worse.

I spent a lot of time looking at my son after this. I never really saw him as an “Asian” boy. We make sure that he knows he is Korean, bringing up on the culture and food, but that this is not what defines who he is. He may be Korean, but ultimately he is just my little Georgie. I didn’t notice the unique pale of his skin or the adorable semi-almond shape of his eyed, these little subtleties that I just thought made him absolutely adorable are the things that this world is going to focus on whenever they see him. I hugged my baby so long yesterday, apologizing to him for the harsh realities of his future.

I was not prepared for this. I hoped I’d never have to be ready for this, but here we are. I may not be able to understand the pain of being picked on for my race, but I certainly know that I have to start educating myself on how to handle this when he can understand. I hope this is a one time thing, but I have this sick feeling in my stomach that this is not the last time. It will probably happen when I’m not around to protect him or he’s too old for me to cuddle this away. Our culture needs to change. We need to be better. Our children are depending on us.

And Now It’s Done

With a hectic month of work and trying to find time to complete the novel, I have completed the NaNoWriMo challenge. At 50,444 words, the “Science of Suicide” is complete. Next up is the beginning of the editing process, which I will wait a few days to start tackling. I need to not look at this novel after working on it daily since Nov. 1st. It was close though, I completed it at 8 a.m. on November 31st. Hopefully soon I’ll get to report that it is up for sale and begin trying to hock that one in addition to  my other 3 eBooks that are currently for sale. Until then, I can officially begin adding this back into my rotation.

I’m not sure which story got sensationalized more by the media: Ferguson or Ebola. I don’t know the facts on Ferguson, so I can’t say who I feel was in the right during the situation that occurred. Why? Because every news outlet seems to have a different account as to what actually happened, bending information as always to suit whatever agenda they are pushing on their viewers. Increasingly so, their viewers (on both sides of the aisle) are just becoming mouth pieces that recite information back to everyone else as if it were fact. I can tell you who is in the wrong though: the violent protestors and anyone who encourages them. I’m not going to feign outrage over this because every day someone is killed by another for an injustice and no one seems to care… until it fits an agenda.

What about that body of a missing girl they just found? How about we protest her? Or what about the former Cake drummer that just got put away for 15 years to life for sexually assaulting a 3-year-old girl? Let’s start a protest about that? I’m not buying into anyone’s outrage over this. The fact of the matter, so eloquently put by people like Pharrell Williams, is why aren’t we addressing why a kid would think it’s okay to behave like that or why you should stop when a cop tells you to? Then another point that was thrown out by Joe Scarborough about how we cling onto the wrong poster children, like people saying that George Zimmerman was a hero for what he did only to find out that he really was just trouble all along. The media picks and chooses these people to push an agenda, but why not use positive people fighting for causes. What happened to applauding people like Rose Parks, who did one simple act and became a hero for change in America? What about Gandhi, who was all for peaceful protest to make change? The keys in both of these actual heroes is in how they went about change: through peace.

We don’t have these true heroes anymore, at least none that the media cares to share with the world. Is there still racism in America? Absolutely. The only people who don’t think that are privileged white people with their heads in the clouds, listening to news organizations saying that all races are equal in America. They ignore it when a local Muslim gets ransacked because of a terrorist attack, and then blame it on them for “not speaking out against their radicals”. They make comments about how that new Muslim family in the neighborhood are sleeper cell terrorists. They ignore the fact that a person does get racially profiled while driving or at the airport. Let’s consider this: the people responsible for the Boston marathon bombing were white. They did not look like the stereotypical Muslim. So, why aren’t white people checked as thoroughly as a person with color in their skin when going through the airport? There would be outrage if that occurred. So if you are so convinced that racism doesn’t exist in America, you need to start looking around in the real world because eventually those clouds are going to pop.

Certainly, it is not as bad as it used to be. No one is arguing with that. But hate still exists, and even the simplest comment about a person being a sleeper terrorist because someone looks like they could be a Muslim is disgusting no matter how you put it. Because that white family that just moved in could be just as likely to commit an act of terrorism, as we have seen. The minute we stop hating, racism will no longer exist. Unfortunately, people do hate. It is not a war where you need to be on the black or white side, it’s a war on people. We need to start accepting each other, whether we’re white or Asian or black or blue or green. We all have bad people with our skin color or religion, and that does not make us special.

When Old Men Attack

Saturday was a hot day. By 9:30am, the sun was already setting us on fire while we were getting ready for the last little league game of the season. I mentioned how a nice iced drink would be perfect, and we decided to hit McDonald’s drinks to cool off with. No big deal, and our son in the back seat was excited for his day of baseball then a picnic with his teammates. The day was supposed to be a good and stress free day, and so far so good. That was wishful thinking too soon, I should’ve known better.

As we pulled away from the “drive thru”, barely out of the corner of my eye I notice a car too late. The guy saw that we didn’t notice him and decided to continue his drive anyways. He stopped so we went ahead, and we thought that it was all done with. We were wrong. In my view I could see that he pulled up next to us, and was yelling at us through his window. When my husband opened his window, and a slew of profanities came out of this old man’s mouth. He apparently expected my husband to climb out of the car and bow down to this obviously superior white man to beg for his forgiveness. My husband calmly said “I’m sorry I didn’t see you, I already said I’m sorry. What more would you like?” This man continued to yell, and I swore I heard him hurl a few racial slurs towards my husband. Luckily the light turned and we went on our way trying to forget this incident.

A few things bothered us about what happened. The obvious thing was that this man (who was easily in his 50’s-60’s) felt that he had a need to belittle my husband over a mistake. A grown and supposedly mature man was acting like a 16-year-old. The fact that he hurled obscenities and slurs at my husband was bad enough, but we had a 9-year-old in the back seat listening to this person act this way. He listened as a person referred to my husband with words he’s never heard before and words he knew were negative towards him. If my son wasn’t the kid he was, that man could’ve shown him that it was acceptable to use that language in that situation. Luckily, my husband is a good person and obviously a much better man than this guy twice his age.

I have an awful temper, I know this and I know well enough to swallow my words most of the time before something is said that would make me ashamed. That man should’ve been ashamed of himself, and I could see from the look on his wife’s face that she was ashamed enough for all of us. Road rage is awful enough, but what gives that man the right to say what he said? He would’ve been just as much as fault if we did actually get in an accident, as he didn’t look like he was going to stop when he realized we didn’t see him. So what, my husband is Asian and the joke is that Asians can’t drive. There’s also a joke that old people shouldn’t drive, should we have said “get your eyes checked old man” or “you people shouldn’t be on the road after 50”? No, if we had it would’ve been appalling and they would talk about how the younger people don’t respect their elders. Yet this man is able to shout racial slurs and people probably wouldn’t care except people that are negatively called “liberals making a big deal out of something minor”. This incident scares me more than I was before about my child being mixed race in this society. I hope that either things change or my children will help make this change.