Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet. - Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist
I am ignorant sometimes, I will admit. I am guilty indeed, I admit I have benefited from systematic racism, I have not suffered in the same way that African Americans have; but let me say that is absolutely no excuse for me to not address these issues in myself and educate myself. I recognize that I indeed am privileged in so many ways that while growing up I had no clue. I learn more and more about my privilege as a white appearing Asian, where I grew up, and the fact that my ancestors didn't struggle as much compared to African Americans. Also, I recognize my privilege as an American citizen. To be able to have democracy, freedom of speech, a powerful passport, and strong infrastructures for hospitals, and the right to education -- and for this I am thankful.
I grew up in a small rural town. I learned American history through a white-washed version of the American experience. More accurately the white experience is what I learned. I was not surrounded by diversity and was well aware of it. I am an an Asian American, and my peers let it be known to me that I wasn't one of them. I am not here to share that experience right now. I understood immediately when I got to college that I indeed was ignorant about black issues, the discrimination they faced, and systematic racism. I recognized I had preconceived notions about black people on what their interests were; I realized this generalization needed to change. I needed to change. What I knew was not reality. I acknowledged in that moment I had a duty to change my ideas. I had no problem admitting I needed to learn. Sure it was uncomfortable and I hadn't realized how much pain we as Americans and a society had been, and still are discriminating our black brothers and sisters.
I am not black and not living as a black person in America. I have not lived a life in the black experience, so saying I understand or I feel them is inaccurate. I have been doing the best I can to educate myself and having those difficult conversations. More and more I have been calling out racism; while it is scary, this movement is not about me. It is not about what others will think of me, or being unpopular, or offending others white fragility... because it is bigger than one's ego. It is about calling out a system that America has been supporting by remaining silent.
It is about facing adversity for the greater good. For equality and justice. To stop police brutality. To end systematic racism and to bring down the structures that have been put in place to justify racism.
This is America.....
The reality is I am ashamed to be apart of a system that continues to discriminate black Americans. I am ashamed of all the hate people continue to cling to. The active hate people are spreading, the belief that black people are a threat, that they do not deserve the same rights or opportunity, that we do not prioritize the safety of black bodies...
In these hard times I have been overwhelmed with the news and social media of the killings of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Eric Garner, Ahmaud..... and unfortunately so so many more who were killed due to police brutality. RIP and BLM #blacklivesmatter I wanted to spread some outlets in which you can address your privileges and prejudices. It is NOT black people's responsibility to inform you or teach you about black history, the idea of the New Jim Crow, police brutality, and all of your ignorance.
For more information about what the New Jim Crow - War on Drugs read the book, currently I am reading the book, but have already read excerpts from Alexander's book.
What can you do?
There is a lot you can do to support this cause of Black Lives Matter. Maybe you feel overwhelmed. I am here to give you clear options on what is helpful and will show support to our black brothers and sisters.
Listen and silent are spelled with the same letters....think about it. Something I hold near and dear to my heart is this.... "Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. Is it TRUE? Is it NECESSARY? Is it KIND? -Buddha"
It is not your time as a non-black person to state your problems, your experience, or a similar story to relate to police brutality. When a black person tells you a story of the black experience of police brutality that they face everyday....do not respond with "one time a cop was violent with me too, I had to pay for such a stupid ticket offence....". Not everything is about you. Listen and validate their experience with loving kindness. Loving kindness is to be non-reactive, understanding, and open.
---question your reality and assumptions you have about the American black race
"Never stop learning, for when we stop learning, we stop growing".
Let go of your ego that you already know everything. No one knows everything, no physical body knows everything. It is your responsibility to educate yourself and understand others. Let go of hate and learn the facts. Do you get all of your information from what you already know. What about just staying comfortable and talking with people who have similar ideals to you? Honestly, a lot of people stay in their comfortable bubble. There is the thing called a growth mindset. I can speak from my own personal experience that I have changed to a growth mindset in the last few years and what I have learned has brought me peace, love, and friends all over the world. A growth mindset can set you free from fear, from living in a box. The time is now to change yourself for the better. To grow in your ideals, grow in your development, learn from others... living in opposition of the growth mindset is to let fear stop you from obtaining knowledge, it is to allow cynicism to rule your world that everything is fixed. It is the idea that change is bad and playing it safe is the solution. Address yourself why is it that I believe what I believe? It is necessary? Is it true? How do I know it to be true? Am I speaking with the intent to bring kindness in the world? If not, check your privilege. If you think oh yes I know these all to be true...think again. Always question yourself.
Knowledge is power and change is going to happen whether you like it or not. America is a melting pot and it is about time we identify ourselves as a country that has a foundation of love and acceptance for the racial groups that have created the America we know today.
Here are different platforms to research to gain knowledge about this cause.
Books to read:
- Half of a Yellow Sun, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
- So You Want to Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
- The New Jim Crow, Michelle Alexander
- White Fragility, Robin Diangelo
- I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
- The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein
- The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
- I'm Still Here, Austin Channing Brown
Movies and TV:
-13th on Netflix
- Say Her Name
- Get Out
- The Help
- When They See Us
- The Hate U Give, Angie Thomas
- Now You See Me
- Dear White People
- Just Mercy
- Adam Ruins Everything Full episode on Netflix
Be an activist. Protest. Be an ally. Call out people being racist and ignorant. Do not be silent. Challenge those around you. Challenge yourself and have those difficult conversations.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter, Martin Luther King".
Volunteer and Support
Raise your Voice! Protest and be a symbol of change and stand up for change. Stand with your black brothers and sisters and be an ally for their cause! If protesting isn't your thing then sign petitions and encourage the systems to demand justice for the cause.