“As with many traumatic experiences, they were anguished by their memories and haunted by shame for something that wasn’t their fault. Shame is a cruel thing. It should rest on the perpetrators but they don’t carry it the way victims do.”
― George Takei, They Called Us Enemy
I pass them frequently on the recreation trails; usually just before sunrise.
Two elderly ladies; they walk close together, shoulder to shoulder, nearly touching.
Another elderly woman toddles along and as I pass we wave to each other.
There’s the couple, at least I think they’re a couple. He walks about ten paces behind the woman, both of them about my age.
The runner; a slender girl with big round eyeglasses. We exchange the customary runner’s nod as she cruises past.
My friend, Michelle. I see her and her yellow lab Duke during the mornings when I get a late start. I stop and as we talk, Duke and Lexi do the doggy greeting; a butt sniff and some tail wagging.
They all have one thing in common; they’re all Asian. They all share the knowledge that Asians have become ground zero.
All of them know me by sight now so I guess I’m not seen as a threat. I wonder how they feel when they approach someone who they’ve never seen before.
What about the Asian people who are seeing me on the trail for the first time. Is there a moment of pause, a gulp, a little twinge of apprehension?
I can’t get inside their heads or feel the rise in pulse. I can’t know what’s in the pit of their stomachs; that place where mistrust and apprehension reside. I can’t fathom the idea of having to calculate the risk of going out for a walk, or getting on a bus, or going to the supermarket.
Reason tells us that if leaving your house puts you at risk of getting attacked then maybe you should just stay home. The problem with that notion is that it’s entirely at odds with American ideals. You know the ones, “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”?
“Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” are the words so often quoted by the very people who are among the most likely to deny their fellow citizens of those inalienable rights – a denial based on looks, customs, beliefs and lifestyles that aren’t welcome.
The ideals in The Declaration of Independence are no more than hollow words if reality means staying in fortress home.
Is this the America that the founders envisioned?
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,”
It’s awfully hard to breathe free, when you have to think twice about walking through your own neighborhood.
It’s Asians who are huddling now but in America, the land of opportunity, the predators will seize on any convenient opportunity, any excuse, to find a vulnerable group to brutalize.
After September 11th, 2001 and in the fall of 1990 (when the First Gulf War was launched) that dubious opportunity fell on anyone who appeared to be Muslim or Middle Eastern.
The intended target of hate in America in those days might have been Iraqis, but if the guy receiving a beating just happened to be Indian or Egyptian, well, did it really matter? He carried that dark complexion or THOSE facial features. She was wearing a hijab or he was wearing a turban; all trying to import Sharia Law, even if they weren’t even Muslim. In the end the reasoning was, what the hell they’re all the same.
There’s a saying that’s popular among white supremacists. It goes, “Kill them all and let god sort them out.”
Now the hate radar has locked onto Asians and Pacific Islanders. Why? Because a virus that originated in Wuhan, China, has become the burden of anyone of Asian descent; Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese. Does it really matter? They all have those eyes, that nose, the dark black hair and that skin color that’s just, well, not white. The virus? That’s just the reason du jour. Virus or no virus, the haters would still hate, still wish those people gone, by whatever means.
The hate radar is constantly sweeping for targets and this is not the first time it’s landed on the Asians.
Nineteenth century immigrants from China came to America either to escape persecution, or to make better lives for themselves through work opportunities, or to try their luck and labor in the gold and silver mines. Seen as competitors and inferiors, they were subjected to discrimination and brutalization.
Fifteen thousand Chinese workers helped to build the Transcontinental Railroad. They were paid less than their white counterparts and forced to live in tents while the white workers lived in dormitory railcars.
Those who came to America to escape persecution soon found that they’d come to the wrong place. Chinatowns sprouted; sanctuaries from systemic and violent racism, havens where residents could practice their religious and societal customs, and trade in goods and services common to their culture.
Racism was codified by the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, and the internment of Japanese-Americans in 1942.
In the 1970’s, a group of Vietnamese refugees who’d fled to America settled in Houston, Texas. When they left Vietnam they carried with them the kind of work ethic that’s born of survival in a nation that had seen decades of war.
Many of the immigrants to Houston took up shrimping, they worked hard, harder than the long time locals, and they quickly became good at shrimping. Local shrimpers viewed the newcomers as unwelcome competition and when tensions came to a head a war broke out. On one side were the locals and the Ku Klux Klan, egged on by a disaffected Vietnam War vet named Louis Beam. On the other side, the Vietnamese shrimpers.
The war was settled in court with the Vietnamese shrimpers prevailing, but it was a demarcation; a point at which white extremism took a hard turn, driven largely by Beam and other vets like him who felt they’d been betrayed by their own government. It was a turn that would follow a road forty years long; one that would lead to the events of January 6th, 2021.
George was in my high school graduating class but we probably would never have met had we not joined the cross country team during our sophomore year.
We became friends at the back of the pack during workouts, wondering to each other why we’d joined a sport that required expensive sneakers, resistance to pain, and a somewhat thick skin to deflect the catcalls and insults hurled at runners during those days before jogging was a thing.
We were good friends but not necessarily great friends. Still we had the unique bond that one can only share with teammates.
George was his given American name. He had a Japanese name that his parents had given him at birth, but George always went by George – at least outside of home.
George’s parents, steeped in tradition, had emigrated from Japan. Maybe even George had emigrated, either in or out of the womb, but that’s something I can’t recall.
The family ran a little mom and pop grocery/bait shop in the area of 2nd Avenue and South Idaho, in San Mateo, California. They lived in the same neighborhood as their store, maybe right upstairs; another misplaced detail.
Unless you know the town and its history, 2nd and South Idaho won’t mean much to you. These were the flatlands that housed the town’s Japanese community; one that began to flourish in the early 20th Century when immigrants arrived to work in the salt ponds and the flower industry. It was on “the other side of the tracks.”
George’s family had arrived after the war; an event that, in 1969, was still fresh in the minds of the so-called Greatest Generation and their children. Maybe that’s one reason why George was something of a quiet kid, the result of an admonishment from his parents to lay low and not get on the white people’s radar.
Or maybe it was just George’s nature.
George came to my house in the hills above San Mateo on a number of occasions. He’d stay for dinner or lunch and we’d hang out in my room and listen to music and talk about school or girls or what a pain in the ass our coach was. Mom used to comment about George being a quiet kid.
When I got my first car, a ‘64 Chevy Nova hand me down from my parents, George and I cruised El Camino Real on Friday nights, listening to Santana at jet plane decibel levels. We stopped for burgers at A&W and to admire the carhops; girls who were untouchable for us, as they all seemed to have football player boyfriends.
At school we critiqued teachers, procrastinated on term papers, pissed and moaned about cafeteria food and got kicked out of the library for being too noisy.
Here’s the thing about George, the really, simple, basic, down to Earth thing: he was just a regular high school kid, just like all the other high school kids.
Certainly he was different at home. But weren’t all of us different at home?
George’s parents were Buddhist, something that he didn’t really have any truck with. They ate Japanese food, maybe with chopsticks. They spoke Japanese at home. They led their own legit, harmless lives.
None of it was anybody’s business.
Just like it wasn’t anybody’s business that my mom was Catholic, and went to church on Sundays while I stayed home watching football, and my parents gave me a splash of wine with our Italian dinner, and we often spoke Italian at home.
And it wasn’t anybody’s business that the guy next door was a Brit, and when they came home from playing, his kids had to get naked on the back porch and head straight to the bathtub, and once they were squeaky clean they didn’t eat with mom and dad, they ate afterwards. Their mom went to some Protestant Church, I don’t recall which it was – it really wasn’t my business.
And it wasn’t anybody’s business what the Dutch family across the street did in the privacy of their home, except maybe for the eldest daughter who used to swap spit with her boyfriend on the front porch in front of god and everyone.
George was just a regular guy but then, as now, there were some people who took exception to his particular family’s customs. Something un-American about them; their food, their eating utensils, their language; oh and that religion bereft of the bearded white guy on a cross.
The notion of a cultural melting pot or salad is just fine and dandy, but there are some things, different sounding things, different looking things and different ways of acting that just don’t seem to belong in a crucible or a salad bowl.
It was 2015, and I’d known Marques for twelve or so years when I told him, “I don’t think it’s going to get THAT bad,”
Marques is a Black man who I’d met at a tavern in nearby Pinole. I can’t remember what originally got us talking to each other, but we soon became barroom buddies. We had two things in common; we were both high school coaches and we claimed the same politics.
2015. Donald Trump declared his candidacy. Marques was predicting the end of life as he knew it, while I downplayed Trump as a sideshow. I told Marques that he was exaggerating. Trump could never be elected and even in the odd event that he was, how much damage could Trump really do?
How much damage? We’ll be making repairs for years if not decades.
From the start, Trump set his malevolent sights on just about every minority that suited his deflections.
For most of Trump’s term it seemed that the Asian Community might be spared much of Trump’s cruelty.
And then; China Virus, Kung Flu. The President of the United States turned the wrath of a nation on a group of people who had no more to do with the pandemic than the guy down the block mowing his lawn. How convenient that an entire group of people became available as a distraction from a horribly failed policy; one that resulted in needless death and economic devastation.
Trump helped to turn the virulent clock back to the 19th century when Asians found a haven in the Chinatowns of America. This time though Chinatown is hardly a refuge. Chinatown has become a target rich environment for the coward looking to prey on an elderly victim.
I’ve learned a lot since 2015. I learned that Marques’ fears were well founded. He often told me during discussions, sometimes heated, that I, a middle aged white guy, had nothing to fear, that I couldn’t possibly comprehend his despair.
Marques was right. He was right about Trump and right about my lack of comprehension.
I learned that Marques has something that I’ve never possessed; a burden that I’ve never carried – the experience of being a target.
In just the last few weeks, as the terms kung flu and China virus have infected the social environment to an intolerable, unavoidable high, I’ve learned two new lessons.
Eden Baylee is a writer who lives in Toronto, Canada. I guess it was in December of last year that I read one of her posts about a Chinese funeral. I commented, she responded, and then she read one of my posts and commented.
Since then we’ve become friends.
Eden is Asian-Canadian.
Eden and I have talked about race, both in public posts and comments, and privately through emails.
A few days ago Eden wrote a post titled, Growing Up Asian in a Racist World about her own experiences with racism; ones that go back to her childhood.
She was moved to write the post by a particularly brutal attack which took place in New York, one in which a 65 year old Filipino woman was knocked down and then stomped in the face.
Eden writes that the attack, “was the final straw for me.”
“I don’t know why viewing that particular attack shut me down,” she continues.
Eden’s piece is a powerful one, longer than most of her posts, and that’s a good thing because there’s so much that can be taken from it.
There are stories of her own experiences, from the “slanted-eye gestures” she endured as a child to a slur that was hurled at her in the early days of the pandemic; an event that, as Eden recalls, “rattled me for days.”
Allow me a little bit of a sidestep here.
Stories of racism have nearly always come to me from strangers or through the news; always filtered through the thick glass of distance, third parties and anonymity.
I think of anger as the common, most understandable, response to these reports. Those in my demographic watch and feel rage but pain doesn’t touch us. We’re insulated by the whiteness of our skin or by our “Christianity” or our “straightness,” or what we like to call our “normalcy.”
Eden’s story changed that. Eden’s voice is a personal one and while I don’t doubt the veracity of other stories of racism her story brings it closer and the pain more perceptible.
Since she published her piece on April 1st, I’ve read the entire post a few times over, but every time I find myself returning to the same places, the ones that have affected me the most.
“all I can feel as I write this is pain. And if I can’t get rid of the pain by writing down what is true to me, a part of me thinks I should just stop writing altogether. I started this blog in the morning with half a box of tissues and countless used ones crumpled on the floor full of my tears and snot. It was gross, but I didn’t fucking care. I would wash my hands and sanitize everything later.”
“It’s evening now, and my box of tissues is almost empty..”
This hurt my heart. It still hurts my heart; hurts to where I still fight back tears as I write this – days later.
It comes from a place I don’t know. As Eden tells it, “coming from somewhere deeper in me, and all I can feel as I write this is pain.”
I will never be able to know the hurt because I have the insulation that I was born with. I will never know the frustration of not knowing the answer to the simple, “Why?”
Why her? Why people who look like her?
This is the part of the white privilege that doesn’t get talked about so much; the one that’s different from opportunity or standard of living. It’s the privilege of not having to deal with the fear, the frustration, the pain and not having to carry around the unanswered “why.”
I also learned that words matter. Oh, we’ve learned about the power of words since 2015 when Donald Trump declared his candidacy; learned it over and over again, all of it in the negative sense.
But I’ve learned it in a positive sense. Over the course of the past month I’ve reached out to some Asian friends, checking on them to see how they’ve been holding up. For a long time I hesitated to reach out because I reckoned that it was superfluous. What good would, “Are you okay,” and “I’m sorry this is happening,” really do?
The gesture wasn’t as superfluous as I’d expected. My messages of support were received with words of thanks and appreciation. Reaching out is, as Eden put it, being “an ally.” It’s part of standing up “for marginalized and racialized people.”
If you know somebody who is “marginalized and racialized”, reach out, be an ally. It’s the least we can do.
“All these years I kept my true nature hidden, running along like a small shadow so nobody could catch me.
― Amy Tan, The Joy Luck Club
Eden’s entire post can be found on her website. Please follow the link.
Banner Photo: Mural in Oakland, California, by Emily Ding, titled “Dizzy.”
17 thoughts on “Plagued For the Thing That’s Not Their Fault”
Very powerful, Paulie. I just wish it would help mankind turn a corner. The continuing, never-ending scourge of racism is my greatest heartache. By far.
Thank you for the kind words.
It will always be a never ending scourge. I don’t mean to be negative, just realistic. The hate and the ignorance will always hide in the hard hearts and ignorant minds. They just need to go back into hiding.
It would be a big improvement if we could at least put a cork in the bottle that Trump opened though.
To think that I once wondered how much damage he could really do. It’s going to take years for us to repair the damage.
Stay safe Jane.
I certainly only took this post as being realistic. Painfully, accurately realistic. We keep sounding wake-up calls, but not enough people are waking up. Shamefully sad. Keep up your best efforts, as will I.
Pauli, you hit the nail on the head! Government charters (and laws), church doctrine (and practice) and peer approval notwithstanding our world can be a mean-spirited place for some.
It is the uncommon individual, the rare government and almost no church group who is innocent of prejudice, racism, tribalism or nativism. “Difference” being the operative concept at work here. And of course, when that difference is visible and/or a high profile leader empowers others with words and deeds to act on their notion of “rightness” that widespread violence results. It is one thing to have feelings of prejudice and quite another to feel free to act on those feelings, knowing that the opinion of your peers will support this action.
From Boubakar Sanou, theologian and a native of Burkina Faso: “Ethnic and racial differences are not the problem. Prejudice and racism inject our differences with the sinful notion that our difference leads to superiority and inferiority or the distorted belief that our differences are merely cultural cues for determining who is in and who is out, rather than emblems of God’s gift of diversity”.
Please continue to be a moral compass for your readers.
Good morning Stewart
This >>>>And of course, when that difference is visible and/or a high profile leader empowers others with words and deeds to act on their notion of “rightness” that widespread violence results. It is one thing to have feelings of prejudice and quite another to feel free to act on those feelings, knowing that the opinion of your peers will support this action.<<< Racism went through five years of empowerment; empowerment that's continuing. The election hasn't provided an immediate antidote. How long will it take to get back to where we were? Where we were wasn't a great place at that time but it certainly was better. Thank you for visiting and commenting. On a more positive note. Are you able to start planning to hit the road again? We're going to do four days in Death Valley later this month. No city trips planned but I think that camping and hitting the National Parks is relatively safe. Stay healthy Stewart. Paul
Agreed that feelings without actions was more the pattern during the Obama years. There needs to be a consequence for violent actions fostered by racism, sexism and cultural differences by civilians, police and the military.
Long distance travel plans postponed to 2022 for a variety of reasons. Enjoying New England this year. I’ve never been to death valley. Enjoy your visit. Stewart
Very thought provoking Paulie. I keep thinking when will racism cease to exist. There are so many cruel people in this world. It breaks my heart.
Thank you Carolyn.
I don’t imagine that racism will cease but it would certainly represent significant progress if things would calm down.
Unfortunately things got much worse beginning in 2015 and we have a long way to go to get back to where we were.
Thank you for visiting and for commenting.
Thank you Paul. I appreciate you being an ally.
You’re very welcome. It’s the very least I can do
So, once again Paul I composed a response to your blog and inadvertently deleted it. I can’t tell you how many expletives came out of my mouth.
I’m an idiot who hasn’t learned not to respond directly on WordPress. Usually I don’t leave a novel-length comment so it’s not a problem, however … enough of my yammering …
Thank you so much for writing this post. I know it wasn’t easy for you. The issue of race is difficult to tackle, and it takes a brave, intelligent voice to do so. Thank fuck you are both brave and intelligent.
One of the greatest pleasures for me in life is to learn about other people—their culture, history, and traditions. And we can do this very easily, as you did with George and Marques. Like you said, George was not your best friend, but you shared enough common interests to forge a relationship. Whether it’s a misinformed sense of self-preservation, fear, or hate, some people choose to insulate themselves. They’ll never invite someone who doesn’t look like them into their circles—as a friend. This alienation is not without consequences. It breeds misinformation, resentment, and worse—on both sides.
In recent days, I’ve seen Asian on Black and Black on Asian racism as well. It’s truly disheartening and a tragedy. If we, as human beings, supposedly the smartest animals on earth can’t stop fighting each other over superficial differences like skin colour, religion, wardrobe, and more, I don’t think we deserve to survive.
This >>> “Marques was right. He was right about Trump and right about my lack of comprehension. I learned that Marques has something that I’ve never possessed; a burden that I’ve never carried – the experience of being a target.” <<<<
Paul, this is such an honest statement, and for me, highlights the challenges minorities continue to face.
I’m always amazed when issues of race arise, and the person who represents the majority (in the west, usually a white person) is shocked that racism is still a problem. They look at the world through their lens only. If they cannot see or feel racism, then it does not exist for them.
Yes, you’re a middle-aged white guy, and you didn’t understand the despair of your friend Marques at the time, no more than he could understand what it’s like to grow up as a white man. The takeaway is: we can respect each other’s truths and experiences without ever having lived in the other person’s shoes.
I really appreciate your mention of my post. Thank you. ❤️ It was meant to open the door to conversations about race, should anybody want to talk about it. If it made life a bit better for those who've been suffering, or created more awareness for those who didn’t even realize their racism, then it was worth it. As you know, I struggled with whether or not to even publish it. I was aware that some people will get it, and some people never will. And that’s exactly how it landed.
That you listen is a huge part of ensuring the voices of marginalized people get heard. Your words are anything but superfluous. Yes, you were born insulated by the privilege of being white, but that was never within your control, no more than I can change that I’m Asian. It matters a great deal that you publicly speak out against racism.
I’m extremely proud to consider you a friend, THANK YOU for your hard work in putting your thoughts down for us to read.
This response is beyond late and for that I apologize.
>>>If we, as human beings, supposedly the smartest animals on earth can’t stop fighting each other over superficial differences like skin colour, religion, wardrobe, and more, I don’t think we deserve to survive.<<< With all the wars and self-destruction and environmental destruction going on, and at such a breakneck pace, the final six words of your comment above are becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. >>>I’m always amazed when issues of race arise, and the person who represents the majority (in the west, usually a white person) is shocked that racism is still a problem. They look at the world through their lens only. If they cannot see or feel racism, then it does not exist for them.<<< For years I didn’t take racism seriously, and I’m certain that you got that from reading my other posts on race. When Obama was elected I, just as many like me, declared the end of racism. It took Trump to bring racism out in the open in ways that we haven’t seen since the 1950’s. In a perverse way, that’s the one positive that came out of the Trump administration; a realization for some, like me, that we were pretending. Does racism have to remain overt and in the open in order to keep us from falling into delusion? As regards white people representing the majority, that is changing in America. It’s what scares the hell out of a lot of white people. It’s what is driving voter suppression, the America first movement, the anti-immigration movement. This fear is one of the reasons that gun shops are doing a land office business and monsters like Ted Cruz and Marjorie Taylor Greene get elected to office. I recently finished reading a book titled “Bring the War Home,” about white supremacy in America. It brings home (no pun intended) the reality that racism is not a one off. It’s a depressing book and it frankly shocked me; shocked, even after having come to my own realization about racism. >>>I struggled with whether or not to even publish it (your own post). I was aware that some people will get it, and some people never will. And that’s exactly how it landed.<<< Your post needed to be published. The reactions that I’ve witnessed from Asians, mostly Pacific Islanders, those who I know, to the violence of the last year has mostly been anger. Anger is the most expected, the most understandable. What you described was the pain. It’s the thing that we don’t often realize. Your post broke my heart. Did you actually get reactions from people who don’t get it? Consider that a rhetorical question. I wish you peace of my mind, and in your heart and in your life. P.
No worries Paul, thanks for responding – at any time.
I hope we learn from history, otherwise we are doomed to repeat it. I know someone famous said that.
Based on the US census bureau, data from 2019 showed a 60% white population (not Hispanic or Latino). Asians are 6%, Blacks are about 13%. That’s a whole lot of fear for what I see is still an overwhelming majority.
The answer to: Did you actually get reactions from people who don’t get it?
I’m afraid the answer is yes, 😢, but it doesn’t surprise me.
For some, their only way of dealing with racism is not to engage, not to respond, and not even to offer a kind word. They fully understand and know their privilege in a system that has served them. They don’t want to lose their place in it.
Silence can be deafening at times and it reveals a lot.
Thank you for not being silent.
Deeply moving post, just like my friend Eden Baylee’s. So as a Chinese native living in the UK, I thank you for your honesty and your compassion, Paul. I cried yet again reading your post, just as I did, when I read Eden’s.
I always knew that there are prejudices and inequality in this world, but racism was something I discovered after I came to study in the UK just over 30 years ago. I never knew that the colour of my skin could be a problem for other people, and then my life in the UK has constantly reminded me that for some people, they cannot see me beyond the fact that I am Chinese and they can just hurl abuse at me as they drive by.
Then I did my PhD on British Ethnic Minority students’ experiences in UK higher Education, and race and racism were at the core of my research. I surveyed thousands of students and interviewed hundreds of students from Asian and Black backgrounds, and I realised how deeply rooted the White Supremacy in the western societies, and how the colours of our skins affect almost everything we do, from education to professional pursuits. Personally I have encountered enough racism and other injustices to have gathered materials for serval books, and I am sure that given the current situation, I will have even more lived experiences. In fact, some of my personal experiences in the UK were so horrible that I have been unable to put my stories in writing in the past few years. Yeah, it is depressing.
Anyway, thank you for this post, and thanks to Eden who sent me a link to get me here.
Thank you for reading and commenting.
The story that you tell about the abuse you’ve been subjected to, along with Eden’s experiences and the stories that have filled the news about the current wave of anti-Asian hate is something that is, as I wrote in my piece, completely foreign to me.
This of course isn’t to say that I disbelieve you, but to say that I simply cannot get my head around the whole concept of hatred over the color of one’s skin, their religion, sexuality or their disability.
In one of your comments to Eden you wrote that, the “UK government published the Race Report which claimed that there was no such thing as Institutional Racism.”
As most of the world is aware, for the past four years we had the same problem here in America under Trump. Not only did the administration deny racism it gave a nod and a wink to racists to perpetrate whatever they wished. That problem hasn’t gone away. Trump’s permission still looms like a specter.
Within the new administration there’s an admission of the problem of racism but there is a vast section of our population that believes that racism is an exaggeration.
No doubt many in this group are well meaning people who honestly don’t believe that racism is a serious problem.
I was a part of that group.
And why not? I live in a quiet community with a population that is majority Filipino (my wife is Filipina). My next door neighbors are Black, and most of my other neighbors are either Asian or Pacific Islander.
And why not? After Barack Obama was elected I proclaimed the death of racism.
And why not? If I didn’t see it first hand it couldn’t really exist.
The belief persists that racism is an excuse or a crutch or a myth. <<< This is where change needs to start in earnest. It took George Floyd’s death and other high profile events to set my own mind right. Eyes need to be opened and more people need to do as Eden suggests in her own post. Stand in solidarity with Black, Asian, Indigenous, and people of colour. Be a friend. Be an ally. Be courageous and speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Be proactive in your learning. Educate yourself. Do the work and don’t expect those hurting to educate you. Be brave. Don’t let another human suffer at the hands of racists. Racism hurts all of us. Call it out when you see it, hear it, and experience it. I wish you well Junying and I wish you peace and I wish you justice.
This is such a powerful post, Paulie.
Thank you for sharing your experience and the limited glimpses of the experiences of people you have known. You are so correct – “The hate radar is constantly sweeping for targets.” Those who wield it reveal their brokenness in the doing, but I’m sure that’s little consolation for their victims. Like you, I wouldn’t know – privileged middle-aged white guy here.
Also, thank you for your wonderful writing. Your style welcomes me in, like talking to a friend, feels good even when you’re discussing the bad in life. I love this sentence, despite the sad reality it reveals: “The notion of a cultural melting pot or salad is just fine and dandy, but there are some things, different sounding things, different looking things and different ways of acting that just don’t seem to belong in a crucible or a salad bowl.”
I plan to read Eden’s post as soon as I can, too.
Keep up the good work with the good words.
Thank you Martin, for reading and for the kind words about my writing.
Asian hate is a particularly sore subject for me. Maybe it’s because just about my whole neighborhood is API or Asian and I talk to these folks or wave to them almost daily. Maybe it’s because my wife and daughter in law are Filipina. Maybe it’s just because the hate is just such a stupid, unfathomable thing.
This particular piece took me a very long time to finish. It went through a lot of edits, additions, deletions and throw aways. By the time I’d pushed it out I was literally exhausted. It was much the same way with other pieces I’ve done on race.
It seems that everything is exhausting. As I write this, I find that 8 people have been killed at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. It’s just exhausting.
Thank you for reading Martin. Keep up the good work on your site.