Tag Archives: i am not a terrorist

Oh, Good. Let’s Talk About Race Again.

Over the last five years, I’ve written here and there about race. It’s clearly a very big part of my life. And it feels like racial tensions are rising higher and higher every day.

(Like police officers Supporting Darren Wilson, or these idiots yelling at the Ferguson protesters, or a black man being shot for holding a toy bb gun because it is shoot-first-ask-later.)

As usual, there’s this sense of uselessness. I’m not sure what I can be doing. I try to be as vocal as possible, and talk about it and write about it. Which helps, maybe?

There’s a lot of diversity-talk happening in the publishing industry right now, which is amazing. There is a gross lack of diversity in the workforce, and people are starting realize it (though, it did take them a minute). Conversations are finally starting to happen about how to fix that problem. And of course, We Need Diverse Books really jump-started the conversation by pointing out our abysmal lack of publishing with and of PoCs*.

But this isn’t enough. Books are my world, obviously. And we will hopefully have more diverse books to have an effect on the way people think in the future. But they’re still a very small part of the world at large.

I want everyone I know to be as angry as I am when movies come out with all white-casts (ahem, Skeleton Twins and What If). I want them to notice when a book or TV series has no major characters who are PoC. I want them to care when movies like Moses have all white leads and have PoCs cast as slaves and thieves. I want them to notice when video games have no PoCs or just stereotypes. Or to notice when their job or club or whatever are all one color. I want them to care about cultural appropriation and not support it. I don’t want them to laugh it off. I don’t want them to rationalize it away. And I don’t want to be written off or have eyes rolled when I point these things out.

I don’t want to feel like the angry brown girl.

I want people to realize how important this is.

This never turns off for me. There is never a moment when I am not aware of my race or how it is being reflected in society.

I want to see more of a response and recognition to how we’re represented in the media, because that is where normalization comes from. Until there’s more representation, we’re still seen as other or exotic. We’re not seen as real people. Normalization means that maybe we won’t get talked about in a certain way, or reacted against so violently, or just maybe we’ll be the default setting instead of the afterthought.

I’m not calling out white people for being there, I’m calling out content creators, companies, casting directors, anyone who makes a decision about who is on the screen or in the workplace or on the page for not doing more to represent society as it is. And I’m calling out people who don’t need to care about it for not caring about it.

*PoC is how I refer to myself, so, uh, apologies if it is not your jam.

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Dirty Words: Race Talk

Jeffrey Phelps / AP

Two years ago, I blogged my thoughts on race in America in my super awkward / uncomfortable Super Chocolate Brown Bear post. And in it, I say:

“Sometimes, I still feel like a secondary citizen, socially.

Not secondary in the sense that “you’re brown, you can’t frequent this establishment” – more like, you’re brown and not really American. … It’s not too far off for me to think that way, is it? The way a frighteningly large number of Americans are reacting to our President?

This race thing largely wasn’t an issue until I got older, of course. I like to blame the last good ole’ Dubya for teaching our country that difference is to be feared and rejected. We joke about being called terrorists and being looked at funny in the airport – but the fact remains: there’s truth behind it. I only started laughing about being called a terrorist after I heard a group of kids in college walk by and say: “Yo, check out that terrorist.”’

In light of the shooting that happened this weekend, I’m forced to reckon with this feeling again. Only this time, there’s more anger and confusion. Those of us who were old enough to remember just after 9/11 know that the first man to be killed in a hate crime was Sikh. They’re in the unfortunate position of playing “Muslim” to modern racists / extremists who don’t know the difference. And of course I’m not saying it would have been okay if he had been Muslim. It just shines the light on the first of two big issues here:

A Lack of Education and Understanding

We all hear about Arizona, who, for the past few years with their uneducated governor Jan Brewer, have consistently been anti-minority. Sorry are you brown, I need to see your papers because you might be illegally living here. No, no, I don’t care if you were here first. We believe in white people in Arizona. Where they’ve cut what they are calling “Racially divisive ethnic-studies classes” (also-known-as Mexican Studies.

We hear about Texas, where they’ve voted to downplay the civil rights movement in text books that will be used across the country.

These are not outright attacks on a particular ethnicity or culture, but they are designed to promote the White-is-Right attitude, and that anything that is different doesn’t need to be understood, it just needs to go away. And unfortunately, we’re all kind of sitting back and taking it. This brings me to my second issue:

Why Bother Talking About It?

A few weeks ago there was a terrible incident in Aurora, Colorado. The reaction was immediate. It was all over my newsfeed, all over my tweet stream, everywhere everyone was talking about this thing that had happened. As they should have been! It was a senseless act of violence and needed to be discussed and shared if only so we could create a conversation on how to make it better. One day after the shooting, the Huffington Post posted the reactions of politicians. There are 57 slides of reactions. Within three days of the shooting, there were hundreds of articles about it.

The Wisconsin shooting happened yesterday morning. I didn’t hear about it until yesterday evening. As of this post, I’ve read the reactions of six politicians, one of whom is the executive director of the Sikh Coalition. Most of the people who are talking about it on social media seem to be of South Asian descent. Which makes me think: Do people just feel like this isn’t all that big of a deal?

A man walks into a house of worship and shoots and kills these Asian-Americans. The lack of reaction is disheartening. Why aren’t we worth the same anger and confusion that people felt weeks ago? Is it old news? Is it because it’s more expected?

I’m genuinely struggling with this. After the Aurora shootings, it was all people I knew were talking about. It came up frequently in conversation at home, at work, and everywhere else. Not a single person has brought up this Wisconsin shooting in my office today.

Roger Ebert wrote an op-ed for the Times after the Aurora shooting that because of this act of violence, we should be able to discuss Gun Control in a rational way. I agree. And I think that because of the Wisconsin shootings, we should be able to discuss race and ethnicity in a rational way.

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Super Chocolate Brown Bear

So on my way home from a Birthday get together tonight (… by “tonight” I mean four days ago) I was (unfortunately) able to witness the following scenario: a very drunken Mexican man being (not so subtly) mocked by about 10 drunk white hipster kids on the L train. There was no overt racism or hate speech – just the sense that, this was an older drunk person on a train at a time when it is generally crowded by drunk (more often than not white) kids. And this older drunk person was the Other. (p.s. I am loving my parentheticals tonight).

So, as I was saying, I witnessed this event. And it was sad, heart breakingly so. Not to say that I identify with this old not-quite-sober man, but my mind made a connection in this idea of not fitting in.

My world is largely white washed. And I know that, and I know that it’s an effect of how I’ve decided to live my life. Which is to say, in college I deliberately chose a largely non-Indian major: English, and career wise … well, we all know how that turned out. Despite Sonny Mehta, it is still a mostly non-brown profession (although this too, is changing). And generally, I’m okay with all of it – my life that is. Even so, there is this lingering thought that never really goes away of: you are not the same.

Not that “you are not the same” means you (or I) can blame being different for any ills or negative experiences that fall your way. Rather, it’s that you’re not going to find people who understand you. (cue the: NOBODY UNDERSTANDS ME).

I don’t pull the race card (in all seriousness) often. It’s usually discussed after I’ve had a few- because as with most Americans, I’m not entirely comfortable discussing the issue of race or ethnicity and what that means as an American citizen.

What does it mean when you’re first generation and you don’t have that common history with your country? I honestly feel connected to the history of America- this is where I grew up. Barring a short 8 – 9 months, I’ve spent my entire life in this country … and yet.

Sometimes, I still feel like a secondary citizen, socially.

(WHINE WHINE WHINE)
… my fingers desperately wanted that to say: SHINE SHINE SHINE.

Not secondary in the sense that “you’re brown, you can’t frequent this establishment” – more like, you’re brown and not really American. … It’s not too far off for me to think that way, is it? The way a frighteningly large number of Americans are reacting to our President?

This race thing largely wasn’t an issue until I got older, of course. I like to blame the last good ole’ Dubya for teaching our country that difference is to be feared and rejected. We joke about being called terrorists and being looked at funny in the airport – but the fact remains: there’s truth behind it. I only started laughing about being called a terrorist after I heard a group of kids in college walk by and say: “Yo, check out that terrorist.”

… Seriously. Least inventive racist remark ever?

I think this post is just a lot of verbal diarrhea, and there’s no real argument or thought process or beginning or end. I’m not even sure I’ll publish it, it’ll probably sit here for a few days while I try and decide if it’s appropriate, or if it’s too “call the whambulance.

Regardless … for me, whether or not it’s valid or whether it really means anything, there might always be this scratching little thought inside of my brain.

At the same time, I hate for it to sound like race is some decisive factor in my life. It rarely is – it’s more of something I notice, or think about (maybe too much, I don’t know).

… Well, there it is. I don’t know.

Pre-post fun times: I sent this out to two friends to test it out, so to speak, and my favorite half-Asian only had this to say:

“Are you suffering from half-Asian paranoia—i.e. the belief that everything you say/do is wrong or will grab the unwanted attention from weirdos?  Because if you are, welcome to the club, ahahaha.”

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this has got to be the twilight zone

’cause shit, son – I don’t know what to say if it’s not.

I wasn’t really sure how to start this post – mostly because there’s so, so much anger and frustration and complete confusion as to how we could have fucked up so royally. Equality was denied once again. Only this time it was in what is supposed to be the most accepting place in the country.

I know, I know, that’s just the city. Well, what the hell do you have without us, New York? The rest of you should move to Kansas with the Phelps family, where you belong. Iowa is better than you, do you understand that? Iowa. Is. Better. Than. You. You used to be cool New York. I used to really dig you. You’ve been my home, my goal for so long, I can barely think of another place on earth I’d rather be (ahem, Iowa). You are coming dangerously close to losing the best thing about you. Everyone has (had?) a place here. It’s your go to if you don’t fit in, or even if you do – there is something for everyone in New Yo’k Citay. (Again, I know, that’s just the city). We are hip and trendy and smart and we KNOW that there is a distinct separation between church and state.

… At least, some of us do. Not so much the following democratic leaders who voted against equality: Carl Kruger, Bill Stachowski, Ruben Diaz Sr., Joe Addabbo, Darrel Aubertine, Hiram Monserrate, Shirley Huntley and George Onorato. You obviously do not represent me. I spent eight years not being represented by my federal and my state government, so I don’t know why I’m so lost now that it’s happened again.

Where were you today, New York? Did you get stoned and forget that we’re supposed to represent America as it should be and not as it is?

I wonder if this is how intelligent people in California feel.

I realize that I’m not quite as close to this issue as some of my friends, you know, being a straight woman and all. And I’ve been asked before: Why the huge interest in gay rights when it has nothing to do with you. To that I say, um hai. BECAUSE THAT IS THE ONLY WAY TO RESPOND TO SUCH RIDICULOUSNESS.

Or this.

But seriously. The key words are Civil Rights (say it with me now, Ciiiiviiil Riiiiights). This is something that belongs to everyone. Who the hell are you to decide what goes on in my life just because I don’t adhere to your belief system. Growing up, we all learn that America is a “melting pot” – many different cultures and religions all thrown together in a giant bowl or something. Whatever. Then you get older and realize what bullshit that is, because the guys in charge, if you are not white and Christian… well kid, they just don’t give a fuck. So when you decide you can’t be for a cause, or don’t care about a cause, because it’s not your particular minority that’s getting beat down – don’t forget, we’ve all been there.

Every time equality loses, we’re going back in time. It was just recently that some dickhole judge denied a couple a marriage license because they were two different races. And yeah, he got ridiculed and mocked and all sorts of good fun by the shitty journalists we have left – but his state’s representative said nothing. Which is to say either he agreed with him and so didn’t want to chastise him or the higher ups agreed with him and wouldn’t let this guy talk. Either way, that’s a problem. Um hello, I want to marry Louis Garrell and have little indo-franco bebes. That is not going to happen if some dickhole judge decides I can only marry an Indian guy. What the eff. INDO-FRANCO BEBES. Je repeat.

Like this adorable baby who may or may not be French or Indian but came up in the Google search when I typed in “French Indian Baby” so there.

We are being represented by people who do not give two shits about us and who do not understand that religion has very little place in our government. You’ve turned religion into something ugly you crazy bastards. And it is not.

If you are lucky enough to be one of the few who can consider themselves a “true American” (Priveleged, White, Straight, Christian, Male) – then kudos to you. You got the genetic goldmine! If you weren’t doing this already, you should pat yourself on the back, twatbomb. I’m sure you just don’t know what it means to be excluded or treated strangely because you’ve always “fit in.”

This really is a cause that is close to my heart, because if one group can have their rights taken away for being different, not a single one of us is safe. Remember that a vote for inequality means we are saying that in America difference is to be feared and rejected.

Civl rights are human rights. How can you disagree with that?

There’s more to be said, as ever, on the subject – but I’m playing myself out with Senator Diane Savino’s speech. She says it better than I ever could:

P.S. To all the kids out protesting today and to the marriage equality team – amazing. You made the day a little better.

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