Voice of a ‘Model Minority’ Citizen

Featured photo: post card  designed and written (by photographer Matthew Lau) to Senator Cory Booker for Action 1 of the Women’s March | 10 Actions / 100 Days

The following is a piece of spoken word I have written in the beginning of the year but have yet to perform. The words are relevant to the consequent Facebook Post, an elaboration of my sentiments.

Pity Party

I feel sorry for myself,
the middle child of three American girls,
daughters of Korean immigrants,
ones who had to survive to live,
to live a life worth living.

It’s complicated, you know?
This identity I’m still unable to handle,
(not sure if I ever will)
even at age 21, almost 22,
the lost self complains out of fear,
the fear of disappointing, of disappearing.

We–yellow Americans–do not cry.
Do not cry.
Do do the things we are told,
lacking the word rebellious in our vocabulary,
docile woman who does not cry,
do not fear for their lives.

What is there to fear?
Americans don’t fear us,
so what is there for us to fear?
We fear the fact of mere existence,
of living in the lonely identities
they’ve boxed us in.

Perhaps we’re the lucky ones,
the ones who don’t need to survive to live.
Instead, we are the lucky ones
who need to live to survive,
who need not worry of direct racial profiling,
who need not be wrongfully accused as threats taking strolls on suburban streets.

Perhaps we shouldn’t complain,
and simply feel satisficed with the contentment
of being neither black nor white,
not on the spectrum,
but instead a forgotten, foreign color,
unAmerican,
one they don’t mind
hosting our pity party.

January 20, 2017

_______________________________________________

This is a Facebook post I wrote on April 10, 2017: in response to news of the man who got dragged off the plane in Chicago today

You’d think that at least for the sake of their business and reputation, United wouldn’t handle their passengers like this. I mean, isn’t air travel all about customer satisfaction, making sure that the passengers feel safe and comfortable? Oh, but maybe this decency doesn’t extend itself to an Asian person, or any other non-white passenger for that matter. (Maybe this isn’t an act of blatant racism, MAYBE, but I’m not here to argue that. Though my intuition and gut feeling tell me a white passenger would not have been dragged off the plane like so).
I’m deeply disturbed with many injustices that have been done to minorities within this country. But a problem I see is that in many of the minority alliances, Asians are excluded because we’re viewed as the “model minority”. I’m using this incident as a platform for me to express this concern. The problems we Asians face are not the same as those faced by the black or Hispanic communities because it’s true that the Asian demographic isn’t tied to the endless economic traps of the US (which of course have effects beyond poverty and low income, all of which I can expand on if you want). However, I’d really appreciate if people start recognizing that being an Asian in America is not pretty either. I’ve grown up hearing racial slurs left and right (from other minorities too!!!), people degrading me for not being American (I am a US born citizen by the way), and others who have been violent toward my dad because he isn’t one to be a “quiet/submissive Asian”.
As a Korean woman, I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum, considered to be highly exotic and wanted while also being blatantly ignored for the way I look. I can recount, in detail, many other ignorant, racist, and aggressive remarks made toward me: thank goodness I wasn’t one to be dragged off a plane or shoved to the ground by a white supremacist. If you’re curious, I’ll gladly tell these stories to you. Just ask.
But one story sticks out to me, recently, that I can’t forget. At the No Ban, No Wall demonstration on campus, I was voicing my concerns for fellow minority groups, especially the Muslim community. I was there in solidarity because nobody deserves to be treated less than human. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen how vocal I’ve been about protecting immigrant and minority rights, especially in the beginning of this year. Anyway, while each student leader/protester went up on the steps of Brower to call together their minority brothers and sisters, not a single one of them mentioned Asians. They said, “my black, Muslim, Hispanic, native brothers and sisters,” but not Asians. I remember standing there screaming hooray until each of them silenced me by ending their list of brothers and sisters without including Asians. It’s ironic because the poster I held had written on it Martin Niemöller ‘s poem, “First they came for the Socialists”.
I’m not trying to pretend that Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, Muslims, and all other minorities have it hard in the same way. But I can’t stand pretending that white supremacy does not extend its racist attitudes toward Asians, too. It’s really not a competition of who is in more pain, but a recognition of all those who do suffer within the racist system that controls America. I know that many of you (including Asians) might think, “boohoo, so what if you/we were excluded in that rally?”
And to that I answer: Trump has made it acceptable to hate and exclude based on race and citizenship. He has made people feel invisible, made people want to be invisible. And he sees absolutely no difference between all of the minorities. If you aren’t white and able-bodied, you are simply and plainly a target to him and his followers. His policies affect all of us and his ideologies have already gone out of control because his supporters, each, are free to attack any one of us in any way they want. Evidence of this is abundant and obvious in one scroll down my FB news feed. The last thing we need is for us to exclude one another, especially at a place where we’ve come together to acknowledge the injustices done to all minorities..
The treatment of this man by United Airlines might not have been because he’s Asian, but I am pretty sure it’s because he’s not white. It may have been that we Asians slipped their (the protesters’) minds when they called together their minority brothers and sisters, but I need to ask, “why?” Did the Japanese internment mean nothing to you? Do US policies during the Korean War mean nothing to you? Does the existence of an ongoing three generation dictatorship in North Korea mean nothing to you? Does it not matter that another minority group gets mistreated on a daily basis, perhaps not as blatantly or violently, but truthfully nonetheless? [You can ask me how these events relate back to racism to Asians, too]…
Honestly I’m afraid to click “POST” because I know that people will disagree and consider my complaints illegitimate because Asians aren’t being stopped and held at gunpoint nearly as frequently as other minorities. However, I know I need to make my thoughts on being Asian American more public in order to get those who disagree to try to understand where I’m coming from. Even if this creates disagreement, at least it’s creating a dialogue. To be clear, I stand for the equal treatment of Asians, and I continue to stand in support of black lives, Hispanic, Muslim, and native rights, as well as the rights of any minority I have failed to recognize in this post. Whether you stand with me or not, I will always fight for the rights of all minorities, and I sure as hell will be at the next demonstration on our behalf. #thisis2017
[lastly, my condolences go out to the family/friends of the teacher killed in San Bernardino today as well to those of the two injured students]

_______________________________________

Take a look at this article and video footage below.

M.J.: 04/10/2017

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