I haven’t been able to take my eyes off the news lately, agonizing quietly over the broadcasts, nesting securely in the comfort of home.
I suppose I’m quite good at this, nesting in the privilege that enables me to save uncomfortable talks for the comfortable surroundings of family and friends. Habitually distancing myself from online discussions of sociopolitical issues unless they seem to directly affect me.
Yet racial injustice isn’t a topic that can, or should, be distanced, especially by us of the Asian diaspora. Not just because of how we’ve benefited from the various human rights movements spearheaded by the Black community, but that our silence and biases continue to contribute to the injustices that others experience.
As a first gen Chinese immigrant, I’m too often made aware of our own tainted mindset. I’m not saying that hate is purposefully instigated, but I can’t deny that the community has a distinct preference for paler skin and lighter complexions. I can’t deny the existence of slight remarks and subtle comments that appear at family gatherings. I can’t deny the fact that, no matter how welcomed my family made my Black friends feel, it was a different story when I began dating someone a few shades darker.
The nonchalance of Tao Thao, who stood beside the suffocating George Floyd, and the smugness of Jared Yuan, who smirked and swore at protesters behind his sturdy riot gear, may be uncommon. But their existence, combined with a general lack of participation against racial injustice, bring to light the question of our role in these situations.
I know that us Chinese dislike speaking publicly against the system, but do we really continue our silent majority, “model minority” life, the one that was heard most when opposing affirmative action in Harvard’s admission? Or at a minimum, do we start having real conversations and challenge the covertly racist (subconscious? conscious?) sentiments that most Chinese families are prone to having?
There is a long way to go for every one of us.