More than a year ago I shared my thoughts on forgiveness, as someone who had recently exercised it. These days, I've been thinking about it as someone from the other end of the exchange; I'm hoping to be forgiven. As I often do when I'm thinking about a certain act or sentiment, I looked it up on the Internet. "Forgiveness quotes," I typed, and at the top of the list were a couple a quotes from the man we're celebrating today.
Reading the quote above, the line that resonates for me, today: "There is some good in the worst of us, and some evil in the best of us." I truly believe in that statement. I don't know why. I haven't met every human in the world, and I haven't studied people, the mind, or society in a substantial way, but I do take certain care in observing people (and myself), and watching good television and film, and of the individuals I've met, known, loved, and disliked, I've found this to be true.
I believe that the grey area in this world is enormous.
There is complexity in each of us, so there is complexity in all of us as a collective species. I believe that there is rarely an absolute conclusion you can draw about a person, about an event, about a reaction, or a series of any of these. This kind of thinking sometimes puts me in a position where I end up taking no position. Often, it's my first instinct -- to not have a strong opinion about a controversial topic, to not assert. On the outside it can seem like I don't care at all, or enough, like I'm a lazy person, a dope with no convictions.
When the whole Ferguson "I can't breathe" #blacklivesmatter Fruitvale station Eric Garner, another boy's name, and another's, when all of it unfolded these past few years, I have felt things, but not compelled to act, or to even express those things. Today, I want to. In no particular order, some floating thoughts about race.
I have racist thoughts maybe 50 times a year, of varying degrees. They almost never affect my actions.
I am cautious of men that look shady and avoid them, regardless of their color. Scary men are scary. That's a gender thing, so, for another time.
I was verbally attacked by a 40-something-year-old African-American man for being Asian. He was on a jog and stopped to question my ability to speak English, and told me to get the fuck out of the country, you fucking chink, when I was 18 years old in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
When I am around black people or another minority (Asian included) in a setting where it is very much clear they (or we) are a minority, I feel self-conscious on their behalf, and I first acknowledge it in my head, then I try to push the thought away, not make it obvious. Act normal.
It makes me angry or sad or some other feeling I don't know that black people can't hide the fact that they're black. And while I do not judge them based on the color, I know that many people left in this world, still do.
I still don't know what is OK to say -- black or African-American?
I've never said the N word aloud. and don't plan to.
Sometimes when I think about privileged white people, a mix of anger and sadness brew in the pit of my stomach. Sometimes it's like "Those entitled ignorant assholes..." sometimes it's "But hey, they don't know any better, no one can help what life they are born into," and most of the time, that anger and sadness brewing subsides into a shrug.
Man, I am lucky I am not someone who has to think about what I need to do to survive, or what I need to do to get ahead. To fight the man. I grew up in Cupertino, CA surrounded by Asians or Asian-looking people most of my life.
and maybe that's why, I do not feel envy. I've never wanted to be white.
The most recent time I felt like a minority was at Nopa with my brother last summer. There were no other Asians in the restaurant. Folks at the tables, serving up food, and tending the bar, were white white white. European tourists some. All white. It was just something we noticed a few minutes in, observed, and said,"That's kind of weird, huh?" then we continued to enjoy our meal.
The most recent time I felt embarrassed about being Asian was when I was on a the no. 10 bus and a whole pack of the elderly Chinatown residents were talking up a storm in Cantonese, not smelling minty fresh, taking up a great amount of space, moving around the phlegm in their throats with great force, yet very effortlessly, just being themselves, unabashedly. People who are not them, generally do not like them. Think they are rude and disgusting. And so, I felt embarrassed because they looked like they could be my grandparents.
The earliest time I can remember feeling embarrassed about being Asian is when my pork dumplings smelled up my 2nd grade classroom and a group of boys said something along the lines of "ewww what is that smell?!?"
I'd kill a bunch of mosquitos for some of those pork dumplings right now.
I find men of all different races attractive, but for awhile I was primarily attracted to white males. I am not into men with Asian fetishes, not even Asian males who do. Living in Taiwan changed who I am attracted to. For the past three years, I've been exclusively attracted to Asian-American males in the romantic sense.
I am disgusted by genocide. I hope that most people are, too.
yet -- I firmly believe this world is overpopulated.
I am OK with "racial profiling" in certain high-risk situations.
I'm proud of my Asian heritage. I like having all this wonderful food, tradition, and history to absorb and feel connected to. I love that I have a second home in Taiwan. I love that I understand Mandarin.
My heart aches when I hear of any one who is innocent being murdered. Child? Young'in. Breaks me.
I have a soft spot for black boys. I know that sounds like a lawsuit, but I think it has to do with the fact that I mentored a boy for a semester in college, and I adored him. Tyrese, 8 years old. He made me chase him around the auditorium, and then out the auditorium. When I finally caught up to him and got him to sit down, I asked him "Why'd you make me chase after you like that?" I was upset. With mist in his eyes, his answer was so sincere and wise for his age: "Today was so boring in class. We just sat around, and sometimes I just really want to do something. so now was my chance." One time he asked me what I was, I told him I was Chinese, and he said cool. He liked to draw and braid my hair, and say "sike naw," which I readily added to my vernacular with friends and felt cool about.
I believe those that change the world are often extremists, they see the world in either/or, black/white (wordplay non intentional), or even if they don't see it that way, they are not willing to compromise. They charge forward, blood thirsty, peace thirsty, just thirsty...
Martin Luther King, Jr. was one such man, and while I respect the hell out of him, I remember liking him less when a friend told me he was a huge womanizer, and had multiple affairs.
So there is more where that came from, but I'm spent. What started as an essay about forgiveness has quickly turned into the most honest thing I've written about race on a public forum. It was anecdotal, yes, so it's my word against no one else's.
Thanks for reading, guys. I am going to watch Selma now.
Update: Watched, and it is excellent.