My drive to write usually blows up whenever I’m upset. The urge to voice my thoughts and feelings that never transcribe well when I am speaking but somehow come out okay when I put them on paper. Usually, this leads to creative writing but today won’t be that case.
So let’s talk about race and racism, from my perspective.
Racism is alive and well. It never went away. If you thought it did, you’re probably not a person of color (POC). That’s all there is to it. It’s been around me my entire childhood, through my adolescence and into adulthood. It’s sadly a way of life that many POCs have to deal with and combat with.
It was there when my brother and I were looked oddly by authorities when I was a kid.
It was there when I presented my pro-immigration stance in a mock class debate for English in high school. I remember a white teenager ignoring my reasoning by simply saying “We don’t want you or other Mexicans here, go back home.” The worst part is the teenager’s mother was present and basically agreed with her son. The uncomfortable silence only reminded me that having no supporting voice is a scary and disappointing thing.
It was there when some of my white “friends” joked around me being a drug cartel member who was supply drugs to everyone in high school because I was from Peru. Fighting it on my own only lasted so long. And just like the people who were quiet in that mock class debate, I simply chose to ignore it. A frightening decision. Not attending my five-year high school reunion? A good decision.
It was there when I walked through a high-end shopping mall with my white girlfriend during my college days and we could not enjoy ourselves simply because we were getting looks from every white person there. She expressed how shocked she was because she never saw me the way some white people do. That cheered me up but still, it was just another reminder how simply the color of my skin can lead to such disapproval.
It was there in Japan where certain taxi drivers refused to pick us up because we weren’t Japanese or watching friends being stopped randomly by police to confirm they were not illegal aliens. The twist there though is that all non-Japanese residents seem to go through their moment of racism, white people included. My white friend’s shocked expressions, their disgust at how simply their background led to a situation where they were being persecuted. I was perplexed at how angry they were.
Why? Because, it’s been happening to me throughout my life. It’s nothing new.
My POC friends in Japan and I eventually figured it out. These situations where race came into play (in this case, not being Japanese) were probably the first instances of racism our white friends experienced. It was a slap to the face to them. But for me, it was just an elbow to the side saying “Oh, hey, it’s racism. I see you’re still around.” I was more surprised to see my white friend’s reactions, the amount of anger it led them to experience, followed by sorrow and disbelief. For me though, these feelings have always been within me, dormant, but ever so present.
Part of me wonders how white America would view racism if they all had these experiences scattered throughout their lives, like I did. If they lived in a country where they were not the privileged. Instead, white America chooses to ignore it because it doesn’t affect them. And if it doesn’t affect them, who the hell cares, right?
Some white people are unaware of how much hatred is out there, they haven’t personally experienced it. These poor people believe things are dandy because it doesn’t seem like anything is going wrong in their bubble, where they are not harassed or looked down upon or grouped up with negative images. These people would probably be acting the same way as some of my friends who were experiencing discrimination in Japan. They’re nice, friendly people but just ignorant. To these people, I have to say this:
Open your eyes. Get out of that bubble or you are part of the problem. You’re the equivalent of those quiet students who did not say anything in my mock debate but I could tell you wanted to. You were just afraid. Silence is a scarier thing though.
Racism is something people of color in America experience to this day. And that’s why POC are in fear of what’s to come. This fear or hatred towards someone who does not share the same skin color as yours has shaped into a disgusting form of one person that will soon be the most powerful man in the country. Sure, racism is not the only problem in this country. However, when a man who embodies such hatred and disgust gets elected by the majority of people who voted in this election, it just sends a message to POC that we do not matter.
But I don’t believe that. I refuse to believe that because I have met so many wonderful people in the U.S. People who stand up for what POCs endure even if may have not experienced racism themselves. People who fight with us, combat this crazy, bizarre hatred. You may not know it, but it is you who keep me hold my faith in humanity and what drives me to stay positive, even in the darkest of times. We need more people like you and join the fight against racism. We need more people to open their eyes and step out of that bubble. We need all the help that we can get right now.
I’m a stubborn person at heart. I blame my parents and thank them at the same time. No matter how many times I get knocked down, I will still stand up and keep fighting for what I believe in, and for my happiness.
Today is no exception.