You know how you have to sometimes have those uncomfortable conversations with your family or friends? It’s an interesting thing when it’s in the context of an online chat. You get the time to really think about what you want to say and to compose it in what is hopefully a constructive way.
Most of the time I can let things go during the course of conversations but this time, in one of my group chats, I just had to say something. I am the only person of color in the group and the conversation touched on racial differences. I wanted to give my perspective. Here’s a slightly edited version of what I said:
… but I feel like I should say something as the only person of color in this conversation. So here goes.
I have been accused of being discriminatory and I have been profiled based on my skin color. Neither was right and I hope that I learned something from those experiences. In general, so not specifically in this case, white people are given the benefit of the doubt. IN GENERAL. White people are allowed to say and do things and people will ask the question, “Why?” Why did they say that? Why did they act that way? There is that pause and curiosity to know more.
When a person of color says or does something, judgement is swifty made. IN GENERAL. No one asks, “Why?” No one says, why did they say that? Why did they act that way? Many times, again, in general, a person of color is not given that pause or curiosity. No, they are instantly judged, especially in a negative light.
As a person of color who has taken a long time to accept that particular categorization, I have lived enough in the world to see what allowances are made for me and what aren’t. Walking around with my white husband, I am allowed part of his “privilege.” Being an Asian woman, I’m likely fitted into the “model minority” box until I say or do otherwise. I have learned to accept this and perhaps even feel safe for the most part. But I know I’m not, not really. I know that people make exceptions for me like, “Oh, I don’t see you as Filipino, I see you as Valerie.” But here’s the thing, I am American, I am Filipino, and Valerie. All things are true and should be seen. But why do I have to work harder to be seen as an average American woman? Oh yes, because I am not white.
So someone saying, “those people” just want to have their voices heard, doesn’t resonate the same way with me. YES, WE WANT TO BE HEARD. YES, WE WANT PEOPLE TO SEE US. We want the same moment of GRACE that we in turn give other people. But even just wanting that seems like a big ask when damn, it’s just being fucking HUMAN. Maybe if you listen to what we’re saying then we can come together to work on a solution.
So sure, it might not be “racist” to think that the woman gets to say whatever she wants just because she is a black woman but do you think she’s just pulling it out of her ass? Or maybe, she’s just tired of being nice all the time, of capitulating to other people, especially white people. Maybe it’s coming out in the wrong way in your eyes but maybe it’s just frustration on her part. Maybe it’s frustration on all OUR parts.
I don’t know if this will change how any of you feel but I just had to say it because I am the only person of color in this conversation and I feel it my duty to give my perspective. And I love you all and want you to see a little from my point of view.
I was nervous about posting the above to the chat with my friends. We have been friends for over twenty years and I was trusting that our friendship was strong enough for us to be uncomfortable. And so far, it seems that it is. I’m glad I was able to give them a glimpse of my perspective. I don’t usually comment about such things but when generalizations are made regarding race, I guess I can’t keep some things to myself.
We had a lunch outside this week to celebrate the retirement of one of the longtime secretaries. It was nice sitting with my co-workers and relaxing. I’m happy for the retiree! She’s my neighbor so if I ever walk out of my house, I’ll probably see her.
My tattoo is healing quite nicely. I already want another one. I’m trying to hold out until Tyler gets that first Number One song…
And this oddly timely video posted this morning and I can’t help sharing it:
Give it a listen. I say oddly timely because it goes with the top of this blog post…
This is posting on Memorial Day. Remember and honor the fallen. Take that moment then appreciate the freedom that has given you this day off to enjoy your family and friends and life.
Wear your mask, wash your hands, keep your distance, and get that vaccine as soon as you can…