Monday morning, 7:15 AM.
My bf’s putting on his clothes as he looks out on my balcony to see the newest piece I’ve been working on, half finished on a pink wash background on canvas. It was a white woman clasping a black woman’s arm, in a show of unity. “So what inspired you to paint this?” he asks curiously.
“Racial disparity,” I say without looking up as I casually put on my socks.
He laughs and responds sarcastically, “Because racial tension in America isn’t a heavy topic at all, right?”
Disappointed, but not Surprised
Now, this is where it gets interesting. I didn’t mean to say this so matter of factly without any emotion or empathy. Have I and so many others become immune to another trending hashtag of yet another black man or woman shot by police? Is Colin Kaepernick still out of a job? Am I surprised that Starbucks is the latest establishment to be under fire and public scrutiny for racial profiling two black men? Nope. I don’t have to tell you twice. Even if you’re a sick nationalist, (aka as “very fine people” by none other than Mr. Trump himself) you know it’s true. Racism is alive and well, and it’s everywhere, becoming so engraved and prominent in American culture in all areas of media reporting, the music, beauty and fashion industry to the court of law.
“I don’t see color.” Ok…..I never liked hearing this. Actually, I’m sick of hearing this. Why do people say this as a justification to cover up for their behavior or someone else’s racist behavior? Why do people even say it all? Seeing color is not the problem. The problem is labeling someone because of their color. When I see a black person, I know he or she is a black person. I’m not going to sit here and play pretend like I don’t see the color of their skin. The difference is I don’t jump to conclusions or assumptions. I just take it for what it is. When I see a black person in a hoodie, that’s all I see. A black person wearing a hoodie. It’s not that deep. I don’t see a “thug”. When I see a person wearing a hijab, I don’t think “terrorist.” I literally don’t think anything of it. I just mind my own business and go on about my day. Just as I would for a white person, latina, etc. Being a minority myself, I understand the stereotypes. When customers or clients would refer to me as the Asian girl, I didn’t care. That’s my identity. Because I am Asian. But I am not the stereotype or stigma. I am and always will be proud of my roots. As should everyone else.
Racism is taught – but it can be unlearned.
Dismantling a century’s work of mental slavery, decades of systematic oppression, and ending a generation of white nationalists ….what an exhausting sentence to write. Where do we even begin? We begin with ourselves. And we set examples for our children.
To conclude, here is one of my favorite interviews from MLK that still remains relevant and powerful today: