In case you haven’t seen pictures of me yet, I’ll just throw this out there: I’m a white woman.
I grew up without many privileges. I grew up poor. We didn’t have a lot of food, and I certainly didn’t get all the cool toys or clothes or snacks. We had three channels on TV and had to move the outdoor antenna by hand, so my sister and I usually opted to play outside whatever the weather. So pop culture has near-zero meaning in my life. We couldn’t afford to join in extracurricular activities. We were kept socially isolated most of the time, and withdrawn from public school for a few years. There was verbal and physical abuse in our household.
I thought I had it pretty hard. Now, everyone has their struggles, and I’m not here to say that the struggle you, or I, experienced wasn’t real. It was. I coped with mine through escapism, drugs, alcohol. But what I’m going to point out is that even WITH our struggles, the deep pain and fear that I felt, there are so, so many people who have it even WORSE. Can you freaking imagine? Can you imagine the pain of being afraid of walking through life just because of the colour of your skin? I can’t.
I know that there was a time when my mom would hold her breath in fear when she heard news reports of missing or murdered young women, fifteen years ago when I was in the height of my alcoholism. But since I’ve been sober, that’s not something she’s had to worry about.
I know what it feels like to not be served because of the colour of my skin… because where I live, many people are too shy to speak English, and assume I can’t speak Mandarin. So I’ve learned to speak up and request service, and I get it, full of apologies. I know that is not the experience of POC in America and many other countries across the world. So do I really know what it feels like after all? Hmm, nope.
I have heard others here (in Taiwan) say that people move away from them on public transit, and their feelings get hurt. I’m gonna let you in on a secret: you might wanna change your shirt more than once a day here. It’s humid af and you probably stink. Because those people and I have the same colour skin, and I’ve had people purposely sit closer to me and engage me in conversation when I don’t feel like talking, because they think it’s a great opportunity to practice their English. Do we get to pretend that we know how POC feel when they’re discriminated against on public transit? NOPE. Because it’s not the same, and like I said, you probably need to learn how to combat the humidity a little better. Hygiene ftw.
There are so many freedoms that I, as a white person, take for granted. Things I had no idea were an issue for people of colour. And how could I? If I were to get pulled over for speeding, my heart would be racing because I wouldn’t want to pay the fine!!!!! Not because I feared for my life because I thought maybe the officer of the peace was going to shoot me in my own vehicle for no reason. How on earth could I know these things, and know these fears?
Yes, as human beings we all experience pain and fear. Of course we do. Now, it’s time for us whities to shut the f up and LISTEN. Listen. See what’s happening. Mostly in America, but it happens everywhere. Even in Vancouver, some thug (and I mean this in the realest sense) literally threw a 92-year old grandpa out of a 7-11… just because he was Asian, and therefore “part of the problem” [of COVID]. This was just two months ago. Here in Taiwan, POC have a harder time getting hired to teach English, because they don’t “look” the part. They often aren’t asked to do open houses (to attract prospective students) because they don’t “look” like a proper English teacher… no matter their qualifications, skills, or experience.
We can’t turn a blind eye anymore. The world around us is filled with so much more pain than we could possibly imagine. We cannot just sit back on our little woe-is-me platforms of “my life is so freaking hard and I’m going through so much” because even though it is, and you are… if our neighbour’s house is ablaze, it does no good to sit in our house and complain of the unbearable heat. Speak up.
I am farrrrrr from being an expert on racism and equality. I in no way consider myself an expert of qualified to talk about this issue. But I know that it’s important. I know that I can do better. I know that we ALL need to take a stand and quit the BS. It doesn’t matter if the people who raised us, parents, grandparents, or our friends, or whoever, taught us certain things about certain groups of people.
The cycle stops here.
We get to end the cycle.
The past does NOT define the future.
Stand together today. Educate yourself. Speak up.
And fill the world with love, education, awareness, knowledge, and peace.