By Marley K.
It’s been a messed up Black history. I don’t want to rehash it all because I’m still trying to recover from it. Trying to speak on race gets trickier by the day and trying to have cordial conversations on covert and overt racism with some White people can be a challenge. Rarely have I seen overtly racist essays and discussions on Medium by people identifying as anything other than Anglo/European/White people until last week. But I read something the other day that reinforced my beliefs in a shift from segregating labels to pursuing equality.
The essay by a young Chinese American woman was one apologizing to White people for Black anger.
Let me repeat that.
A Chinese-American woman on Medium wrote an essay apologizing to White people for Black anger and the lack of upward mobility of Black people. Now, ain’t that some shit!
This woman didn’t understand why we were angry, and she saw nothing stopping us from succeeding, though I’m not sure how hard she looked. There was too much to unpack with this chick — so much so I had to disengage for my own mental health.
I’ll let you read her essay here (It’s a brief read):
Dear White People, I Don’t Think You’re Racist
I’m not here to guilt you like all the other “Dear White People” articles and tweets you might’ve read.
I was fuming as I read this essay. I noticed only one other person commented on her racist post calling her out on her crappy generalizations about Black people. When I attempted to engage her on her racist views— she did all the things White people do when we call them out on their racist bullshit.
#1. She attempted to validate her assessment of Black/White relations with her professional and educational backgrounds. She had that base covered.
#2. The Chinese-American woman with the European name went on with the next best line White people love to use when they have limited or no meaningful engagement with Black people other than the one or two chosen tokens they associate within their immediate circles. This woman said she has a “Black friend”, except in her case trade her Black friend for a Black man. Having a Black penis inserted inside of her besides perhaps visiting her token Black guy’s friends and family makes her an expert on Black attitudes and my achievements now. Ha!
#3. The Chinese-American woman then wanted to correct my interpretation of her essay on me and my people. People have a nerve!
An assimilated person of color bashes Black people on behalf of the Whiteness she values more.
This Chinese-American woman is suddenly an expert on why in the fuck Black people are tired, unproductive and angry. I tried to encourage her to look elsewhere for enlightenment to no avail. No matter what I suggested for gaining a better understanding of why her assumptions about White/Black relations were off base, she — the Chinese American woman, wasn’t having any of it! The statement that stopped me dead in my tracks was this one:
“Dear white people, please do not let anyone make you feel guilty or ashamed of your race. Truth be told, if you were to treat them with the same contempt they treat you with regarding race, they would call you racist. Your feelings are valid too, and I’m sorry people of color have been unwilling to hear you out, as being white seems to instantly discredit your voice on topics of social justice.”
And how about this one:
It’s disappointing that from all the social justice initiatives that have been sparked over the last few years, we don’t really have much to show for it.”
She’s armed with her little college and Instagram education, her Black man, and her stereotypes and limited experience in our spaces and now she’s made herself an apologist on behalf of Black folks and Martin Luther King. It’s ignorant people like this Woman of Color who puts my Black life on the line. She has a right to be ignorant, but not at my expense. Not in 2019!
I, the Black woman couldn’t tell the Chinese-American woman anything about being a Black woman. Does this sound okay?
Now, for the record — I know none of the Black people this woman may have been in contact with. If she’s the same smart-ass in person, she is in her writings, I’m sure she’s a piece of work to be friends with. Her essay made me catch an attitude with her, and that’s hard to do!
What I know though is through her writing she’s reinforced all the “racist” stereotypes some Blacks have about Chinese/Korean/Japanese people that are true. We perceive racism well no matter its author. She’s also highlighted the unspoken racism many Asian Americans possess. They treat us like Whiteness does. They come into our neighborhoods and judge. They come into our communities and set up businesses appreciating our money, but not our Black skin, our struggles, our history, or our culture.
These types of willfully ignorant people don’t care about our history. All they care about is their Supremacy over us. Assimilating is the path of least resistance. Be anything but Black…
Many Asian-Americans have different values and they have assigned different values to different American ethnic groups. For many of them, Black people are at the bottom of their barrels. Many Asian-Americans have embraced the GOP’s “Pull yourself up by the bootstraps” mantra without acknowledging they aided in taking boots away from us too! I feel these groups get a pass on their overt racism. Back to this piece of work.
Maybe the Black people she met don’t like her in particular because she’s dating a Black guy. Most people prefer to date within their own race so falling someone outside of it often causes strife outside of the relationship — even within communities of color.
I don’t care who you are, we all know how difficult it is to bring home someone other than your race. Racial constructs divide us! If you’ve ever been in an interracial relationship, you know how difficult it is, especially if you’re Black (male or female). Interracial dating in America is challenging. And if the woman who wrote this essay ran into a Black woman, well — who knows what kind of smoke she got. That’s a complex issue within itself.
Think about it. Not only does the Chinese-American appear with her Black man in the sacred Black space, but she also brings with her a lack of appreciation when allowed to come into those spaces. These spaces are rare places in the world not controlled by individuals who have power, who have privilege — and when you come you want to bring White Supremacy.
Perhaps Black people don’t like this woman because she comes into Black communities and homes with an air of arrogance and a know-it-all-ism spirit like so many “researchers” who come into our communities to “understand” us better. Sometimes Asians and other non-White people come into Black spaces with a purpose, not to learn and befriend us (i.e. work, I have married or date a Black guy, my parents’ business is in the hood, to save us via some nonprofit intervention, etc.). Her bragging on her studies and intellect is a dead giveaway.
The Chinese-American woman that wrote the essay is selectively racist, proving a point Black people often make about how many non-White ethnic groups climb on the backs of Blacks but are unwilling or unable to see how they’ve enjoyed our oppression.
Her racism is her problem, but when she espouses her racism, sympathizing with racists and the racist systems Blacks have had to endure for hundreds of years, I have a real problem with it and I feel I have an obligation to speak on it.
It’s possible for non-White people to be racist. This woman’s essay is a perfect of example of the stereotypes we must fight every day. Ignorant people make life hard for the rest of us.
Don’t go to a Black community expecting it to be a White community — because it’s not. Don’t go into one of the numerous Asian communities and expect it to be like Black communities — it won’t be. Don’t expect Haitian communities to be like Dominican communities — because it won’t. When you go to any American community of color and you’re not a part of that ethnic minority, go into it armed with a good understanding of the community’s history, an open heart and mind, ears to hear/listen, and a spirit to learn something. We all have spirits, and we can tell when someone doesn’t like us.
I can’t tell you how many businesses I’ve been in and left because the owner was nasty. I don’t have to spend my money in any place I don’t want to. The same lesson applies when I visit White and non-white spaces and communities. When I visit little Allapattah for Dominican friend chicken, I respect the culture; I follow the rules. I respect the people, and I embrace the change of my surroundings. I apply the same principles when I go to a new state and I want soul food from a Black community. I ask for advice, I travel, and I respect the community and culture. New Orleans Black differs from Charleston and Atlanta Black. I go to learn and experience. I take that experience and grow from it.
We are not a monolith.
When I go to Chinatown in DC, I embrace the culture, I intentionally shop the mom and pop joints, I smile, I thank them for allowing me into their spaces, and I tip so to dispel a myth I am a cheap Black! I give them the respect I want in return. I don’t make blanket assumptions; I understand I may not get a smile in return — it’s a cultural thing. But I don’t allow the actions and attitude of the business owner to impact how I treat them. I respect their community. I want to be welcomed.
If I have a bad experience, I go somewhere else in the community the next time. I don’t just go back and toss the entire community in the toilet!
When I go to the Caribbean communities here in South Florida, I ask for patience and grace when I ask too many questions about foods, when I am uncertain about what something means, and I ask how to pronounce Caribbean words correctly — because I respect their culture. I want them to know I care. Their Black and their culture matters.
When I go to the uppity crust GG’s waterfront dining in one of the most expensive places to eat in the county, I put on my Sunday go-to-meeting best; I speak my best English; I place my cloth napkin on my lap, and I change with my environment. I respect the culture of the community. I want to be there. I’m there to learn. Besides, I never know who I may meet in a place like that.
The lesson here is that I will never know everything about any community but my own. What I know about our community is that we’ve been used, targeted, mistreated, talked about, and neglected for ages. It’s the reason we are suspicious when outsiders come. It’s the reason we don’t trust easily. And it’s the reason we may greet outsiders with a less than peachy welcome. We’re misunderstood. Whiteness loves coming into our communities, is always speaking on our behalf, telling our stories for us, and making excuses for Whiteness to continue with their apathy and indirect implicitness in institutional racism.
These people have stereotypes in your mind and essays like the one this Chinese-American woman wrote confirm what we already know. America has a huge race issue, and it’s not limited to just White people. Other ethnic groups engage in racism against Blacks, and it’s time we talk about it.