I was in a rather innocuous situation with other Anglo-Saxon brothers and sisters, and as it happens sometimes: I felt that ethnic wall of alienation dividing us a mile wide, like I was screaming naked in a glass cage. It felt like flesh torn in two.
I’m not one to pull the “race card” or to “race-bait” at all. I’ve never been about that, and I’m not even sure what those terms mean. But I often feel that some Anglo-Saxons assume I’m missing some kind of basic understanding, as if I don’t “get it” or I’m oblivious to what’s going on, and I’m treated from a detached distance like my life doesn’t really count in the room. In a predominantly white culture, foreigners are often seen as props instead of people, so people of color are these incomplete subhuman creatures that don’t really belong to any inner-circle. We’re treated sort of as a non-entity, which reminds me of this clip from everyone’s favorite romantic movie on the blogosphere.
I know how I sound right now, and I’m not saying anything new. But I felt it really bad today. And unless you’re actually a person of color: it’s nearly impossible to understand how utterly helpless it feels to stand in a crowd where no one really includes you into their journey.
It’s sort of this clinical, preserved, shrink-wrapped stigma of innocence around foreigners that views us as slightly clueless. And I hate that. I hate that Anglo-Saxons don’t understand that there isn’t a vacuum-sealed Asian/Latino/Black culture, but that white people have a culture too, and white culture is not just “the way things are.” I hate that I’m treated as an ethnic trophy of diversity in the “main story” of a white person’s life, and that I’m some kind of a sidekick that doesn’t matter. I hate the condescending way that people explain things to me, as if my culture is some kind of uptight chokehold of antiquated ideas that is second place in a Westernized world.
Probably I’m being racist as well. I suppose I’m defeating my own purpose and I’m guilty of what I’m saying too. But — it’s just exhausting to throw off this uncomfortable anxiety that I’m an alien here. I’m not at home anywhere. I’m an American with Asian blood, which means I belong nowhere. And I wish you could see me as a fellow human being with the same hopes, dreams, insecurities, and flaws as all of us, and maybe we could quit talking down to each other like we can’t see the same shades of life. I’m a person first, with thoughts of my own that exist apart from my face, and I hope we can celebrate our unique cultures instead of using it to categorize. I hope I can understand you too, because maybe you’re really trying, and I don’t want to miss that either. Maybe we’ll actually get to know each other, and even like each other just because.