I am them

Yesterday, my news and social media feeds were filled with two stories – one about a woman who called the cops on a man in Central Park, and another one about a man named George Floyd who was killed by police brutality. I was horrified, angry, sad, conflicted, and restless. In the midst of sorting through all the reactions, news stories and the like, I felt this uneasiness come over me. The first time I felt it was when I read this post by Raise Your Voice author, Kathy Khang:

And then, I took a moment to watch the video that Christian Cooper took of the interaction between the him and the woman who threatened him. The uneasiness grew even bigger. As I sat with it, I kept asking myself why I felt that way. I’m not sure if I am going to get my heart out correctly in these words, but I am going to try.

The echoes of the plea, “I can’t breathe,” are haunting. In 2014, there were so many names of Black men and women who were killed by police brutality, one of whom was Eric Garner. Weren’t these his last words? I remember taking my family, including my then four-year-old daughter, to a silent and peaceful protest for a National Moment of Silence to remember these men and women. We made signs; we listened to the names being read out loud; we stood in silence and in remembrance. I still remember the conversation I had with my daughter about why we were going, why it was important and about what happened. I remember writing about this in 2015 here on this blog.

I have spent much of my life trying to stand in solidarity, to stand up against injustice, to fight racism, and to learn and listen. But yesterday, I felt uneasy. I felt uneasy because I am them. I am the white woman who knew that my word would be believed above that of an African American man. I am the Asian American officer who stood by silently while my fellow officer killed an African American man with unnecessary force.

I said nothing when my parents would lock car doors whenever an African American man would walk by – I never questioned it or wondered why that would happen because somewhere inside me, I knew the answer to that question. I am the person who clutches my things a little closer to me. I am the person who passes by and stands silent because I don’t want to get involved. I am the person who is too scared to speak up or to put my own body in harm’s way for another that has been made in the image of God. I am the person who can look away when someone is hurting, but make sure that I post the article, like the tweet or even retweet the injustice that carries on still today.

I am the person that can be angry about the anti-Asian racism that is happening right now, and still be able to not understand why I should stand in solidarity and fight alongside African Americans rather than against them so that I could have a small taste of the fleeting privilege at their cost. I am them.

As an Asian American, I cannot simply put my head down and listen to the whispers of the Model Minority Myth that tell me to not rock the boat and be lured by the false privilege that was never really mine. For all of our history, it has cost us the precious lives of the Black men and women.

That uneasiness I’ve been feeling has turned into screaming. Every part of me is screaming in anguish, in lament, and in repentance – because I am them.

Here are some Anti-Racism Resources that was put together by Sarah Sophie Flicker, Alyssa Klein in May 2020.

Here is my book and media list to start the conversation on race and racism.

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