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Race Matters: “Can Asian-Americans Be Involved in This Discussion?”


christine pride photo by christine han

At first, I thought of Race Matters as part of a regular program, where I answered questions about the type of readers, but it turned out to be a natural and free way, which I love (I hope you will, too).

After my last episode, a few readers pointed out that I looked more closely at the relationship between blacks and whites. It’s a legitimate review (which is why I love the portion of the Cup of Jo comments and the powerful discussions that take place there). Asian Americans, in particular, as the minority notes, are often left out of the discussion of this type of trading in the country, which can be based on Binary Black / white. For example, Michelle wrote, “Please consider the Asian and Asian diaspora in terms of race. Our experiences are also important! “Pam often ignores us when we talk about young people.”

In recent years, with the rise of “diversity” as a clear and progressive term, the “minority” was followed by a vague term: Black people, or racists, or BIPOC groups, or “diverse peoples,” which irritated me. every time. (Note: individuals cannot be different!) These terms do not describe the anxieties of minorities. All are required to have their own personal experience and understanding, although it can sometimes be difficult to promote this in a world where some people may have a problem.

But we do not do anyone good when we play those useless games: who is at fault? Instead, it is a way for white supremacy to remain stable, placing non-whites among the distorted, white races at the top. Finally, in order to produce and reduce white size, we must tackle the mechanisms that influence it. everything non-white people, by contrast, but interconnected, way.

Recently, I also read Minor Feelings by author Cathy Park Hong, a wonderful series of essays. He wrote of Asians in the Americas who were “terrified by the falsehood that if we sit down and work hard, we believe our efforts will honor us, but our efforts will only frustrate us. Silently we continue the myth that our shame is caused by our oppressive culture and the countries we fled, when America did not give us a chance. The lie that Asia is so popular is so pervasive that even now, as I write, I doubt that I have ever been more like that. ”

For me what this passage, and this book, shed light on is how we, as human beings, are forced to be preoccupied with race and identity and how it changes our lives all the time, big and small, from a bully who calls you “eyes looking” to promotions that you do not receive because you are not “in control.”

Another book I turned to was The Loneliest Americans by Jay Caspian Kang. (A shocking article was published in The New York Times in October.) Jay generously agreed to talk to me, and we had a long, inspiring discussion that affected everything from our childhood to working in the world of white radio. .

The big question for Lonely Americans is, What is an Asian American identity? Is there? With so many people moving from one place to another, under very different circumstances, what unites a group of people?

As Jay put it: “There is no definitive link between what the history of Asia America is and how people can feel it in their lives. Take, confined to Japan, right? It is obvious that something that happened in the past is wrong. And it must be connected, Hey, we are an oppressed people. But most Asian Americans were not in the United States at the time. Instead, the majority of Asian Americans in their countries either did not really like Japan, or they were not united. So the question is, How can we make this personality? If none of the things that often unite people – from history to shared culture to the stories their ancestors go through – does the idea that this is a political identity work? Or cultural identity, because what are its values? “

Shared oppression can certainly be a unifying factor. Put a group of black people together in a non-white room and the discussion can be parallel, regardless of class, and the relationship is easy to develop. It can create a cohesive scream that, for example, leads to a series of demonstrations. But a first-century Korean businessman in LA, a Chinese restaurant worker in New York, and an Indian doctor in Bangalore will have very different experiences, so he will have a hard time creating and promoting political and cultural interests. of the people.

That said, prejudice can be overcome, even if it is confusing. The alliance with anti-Blackness which is the basis of American nationalism can feel like a way to adopt American culture. Many refugees feel they have a choice when it comes to meeting the Black / white dichotomy in America: connect with the oppressed or dictator to find your place in the community and move up.

This reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine who had moved to Senegal. He and his expatriate friends shared in the violence against Blackness. Their ideas were: if we migrated hard workers can do something for ourselves, why can’t they? They may not be aware of or exclude many factors – for example, generations of racial problems and countless laws and systems that have been put in place to prevent efficiency – that have hindered economic and economic equality for black Americans in particular. This friend and others bought the (problematic) myth that America is the ultimate bootstraps meritocracy. Other than that, investing in this belief is what brought them here in the first place.

Pursuing American dreams only and climbing the economic ladder can mean separation and integration and purity in this way. Jay puts it this way: “I think it only makes a few decisions for your family that ensure their comfort, their protection, and that many of those things separate them from Hate.”

This is why the term “small role model” is dangerous – it is given to the community and the powerful as a means of sowing success and humility. The subtext is not too far down: you are better than they. And who would not want to be better off, to be respected for the hard work and dedication? And yet, the moniker and the ideas that go with it – Asians are “good” and “successful” and “respectable” – they make it easy to say, well, they have no bad ones. But millions of people are being “slandered” and humiliated, women are being raped, violent last year (not to mention history), and extreme inequality and widespread poverty in Asia. another story.

It is only natural that the world (including this passage) be more knowledgeable and talk about reality, with a desire to be involved and helpful. And asking questions and listening when it comes to all sorts of colors. I hope this session is a reminder that all events are very different. We can be sensible and knowledgeable about our problems and the blind.

Race Matters is a journey of continued growth, awareness and compassion. In this corner of the Cup of Jo, we want to make sure everyone feels safe and secure, and I urge you, too, to have those feelings in your heart as we begin the new year.

Thoughts? Please feel free to email me with questions or comments at [email protected] Thanks!

Christine Pride is an author, book editor and consultant. His first novel, We Are Not Like Them, by Jo Piazza, published in 2021. He lives in Harlem, New York. Find him on Instagram @cpride.

PS More competition stories, and five things I want to share with my white friends.

(Photo by Christine Han for Cup of Jo.)





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