When I was growing up, I was ashamed to be Chinese. I hated my Chinese name. I was ashamed of anything that showed my legacy. I remember using my money to buy a light colored base in the hopes of being able to transform my career. The girl at the makeup desk looked at me like I was crazy. But I was convinced that the base would make me look white. Being Chinese could be my secret.
I never understood why the kids used their fingers to stretch their eyes so that they looked tilted and made fun of me. I shrugged. When people uttered racial insults, I kept quiet. In my culture, I was taught that it was better to maintain harmony, save the “face” and avoid conflict and confrontation.
The jokes changed as I got older. Suddenly being Asian was exotic and sexy. There were white guys who would only go out with Asian girls. I was twenty years old when Caucasian boys started paying attention to me. So I played with the fantasy of Asian girls and made it a part of my identity. That was acceptance, so I thought.
I’ve grown such a thick skin on all of this – I’ve adapted a lot of coping mechanisms to navigate the sexism and racism I thought was a normal part of life. Along the way, I fell silent. I’ve laughed at Asian jokes and even participated in them. I prioritized the mix rather than causing a stir.
Minimize your reaction to pain. Reduce it. Leave it on your shoulders. This is the approach I have taken all my life. Now I am realizing that this approach of sucking it does not make me stronger, I fall asleep to injustice. A pattern has been created in which I detach myself from discomfort. It perpetuates racism.
I also never wanted to make a “big deal” with these things, because I have so much to be thankful for. I am also learning that I can feel angry, sad and hurt and these emotions do not deny my gratitude.
I have a broken heart for what is happening in the Asian community. I’m also starting to recognize the feelings I’ve discarded for so long need air to breathe. Yesterday I stopped crying several times while I was hooked on the news about the shooting at the Atlanta massage parlors where six Asian women died. I moved to the channel behind the channel of different stories of Asian hate crimes, including the 76-year-old Chinese woman who fought the 39-year-old attacker. I imagined how I would feel if I were my father or my mother. And then I imagined how it would feel for relatives of these vicious racism goals.
Today, after hearing more news about what’s going on and receiving some loving messages from friends who have signed up, I cried. I feel the pain of the Asian community and I start to feel mine.
#learning #stop #minimizing #pain #Asian #racism
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