Anti-racism · Parenting

Taking a Hard Look in the Mirror

I feel like all I have been doing this past week is absorbing news and observing everyone’s reaction to the news. (The news being the death of George Floyd and the protest and riots, just in case you haven’t been on Earth for the past week). I assure you, even though I haven’t written, my head has not been in the sand. My head has been spinning, my heart has been hurting, and I’ve been composing, deleting, evaluating, and reevaluating my own thoughts in my head.

I hardly ever post anything political on my social media accounts. I keep it pretty, pleasant, and as lighthearted I can. I’ve shared a few other people’s artwork and words regarding social injustice, racism. and police brutality during the past few days, but hardly any of my own thoughts so far. But here’s where I am. If Rachel Yuen (who avoids conflict at all costs) is upset and willing to write about the things, well then, it must be bad.

By appearance, I am not a white person (I’ve been assumed Native American, Filipino, and a few other things). I don’t pass as white but I sure as heck benefit from living in a white world with my white husband and children. (Note, my husband is a good, kind, gruff yet goofy hardworking man. My kids… ehhhhhh)

When I was younger, some kids made insensitive comments from grade school through high school about being Asian. Being the snowflake I am, it hurt and made me pretty quiet and shy. Honestly I feel it wasn’t until I was in college that I started becoming less socially awkward and more confident in myself. As an adult, I’ve dealt with very little negativity due to my Asian appearance. I’ve basically had a taste of how it feels to be picked on because of phenotype. But let me tell you, that stuff is nothing in comparison to the lifetime of racism and hurt that black people endured and continue to endure. And I have known too many good black people in my life… from childhood classmates to teammates in high school, to coworkers as an adult (even my mom’s coworkers who were so kind to me when I was a kid!) to just be quiet about all of this.

What happened to George Floyd was so incredibly wrong and inhumane. But the sad truth of all this is that so many acts of violence have been committed against the black community, throughout hundreds of years of history and absolutely in the most recent of times.

Some of us white people get sad for a little bit, share one artsy graphic or post, think “that’s too bad” extend our “thoughts and prayers” and carry on with life as usual. Because we can.

However, it was hard to look the other way this time as protests went from peaceful to feeling like a true threat to our normal lives (I mean, as normal as it can be during a pandemic). Was the looting and burning actually going to come to our white suburbs? What would we do? Who’s side are we actually on? Yes it’s tragic that a black man died at the hand of the police. It’s not the first time it happened and it won’t be the last, but now we are unable to ignore and disregard it. And now we really have to question the “why” of it all.

No, I don’t think burning and looting was right by any means. I truly can’t imagine what it would be like to have a brick and mortar small business damaged and destroyed. I can’t fathom how long-lasting the socioeconomic effects of all the damage and destruction will be. Yes, I definitely think people took advantage of an awful situation. I do not condone violence. And I wish there was another way that this whole situation could have transpired, but I don’t know what that even could have been.

Did any of these thoughts go through your head? Have you been a mess too? Well you’re in good company. We are undeniably divided with an astounding lack of leadership and no one to look to for assurance or guidance. That being said, I am not fit to lead a group of squirrels, but I am here for hugs, support, and conversation no matter who you are.

We are all asking ourselves lots of awkward questions now and I think we are all uncomfortable AF examining our own selves as well as observing the feelings of our friends and family. But still, even though the feelings are hard, I know they need to be acknowledged and worked through.

Here’s what I’ve got on my agenda for my ownself:

  1. Talk to my fleet of children about racism. Listen to them. Try to be kinder and gentler in general because they will live what they learn by watching me. This will be challenging as I’ve been a total crab lately… like all of 2020.
  2. Further educate myself. Read the books regarding white privilege and systemic racism, follow more black people on social media , and have conversations with family and friends with an open mind and heart. I minored in sociology in college and literally read all the things about white privilege and systemic racism. Did my self-absorbed self put any of that knowledge to use besides “being kind”? NOPE.
  3. Look for opportunities to connect and support the black community through my photography business. That feels like the most useful tool I have at my disposal and I have open ears as to how I could help using my camera and the platforms I have.

This was quite ineloquent, feeble, and not nearly as articulate as so many other writers but I just want to put it out there in the world where I stand and that I am so sad and so sorrowful for everything that’s happened. A single blog posts seems absolutely insignificant, but I just want it documented where my heart and head has been during this historic (and awful) time.

But I hope and pray and will work in my home and outside of my home to try to be a light and be part of the change. I hope what’s rebuilt from this tragedy is stronger and more beautiful than we ever could have imagined.

Peace and love, people. Don’t stop believin’. Liberty and justice for all.

And wash your hands.

Rachel