MF 293 : Thoughts on recent events
Today, I share some thoughts on recent events and resources to highlight and inform on issues related to race and identity. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Say their names
George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery. Their lives were cut short by senseless killings and their lives mattered.
Black lives matter.
I’ve been inspired by the number of friends, far and near, and family who have used their platforms and social media channels to say their names and so many others who have lost their lives due to senseless killings. I hope we continue to say their names, remember who they are, mourn and grieve that they’re no longer with us, and find the strength and courage to enact true change.
My experience as a “model minority”
I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man in America and I never will. I can read accounts, I can study history, and I can speak with, listen, and learn from my black brothers and sisters. But I will never know what it is to be black in America.
I can, however, share a little of what it’s like to be part of the so-called “model minority,” a tag that is often given to Asians and Asian-Americans.
I was born in Baltimore, shortly after my parents immigrated from Korea in the 1970s. I experienced my share of racism, being teased on the playground, on the bus, and even at public places like stores and restaurants.
As I grew older, a different kind of experience emerged. I would walk into a classroom in high school, college and even grad school, and people would often make two assumptions:
“You must be great at math.” Actually, I’m not. I’m ok. I’m not the one you have to worry about blowing the curve on the final.
“Wow, you speak really well! I don’t hear any accent.” I was born in the states and public speaking has been a part of my life since third grade.
Both assumptions are part of the baggage that comes with being Asian in America and a “model minority.”
There are also “privileges” that come with this label.
I can walk into a store or restaurant and for the most part, I won’t get a suspicious glance or eye from a security guard or whoever is working behind the counter.
Caveat: in recent times, I’m aware and more cautious when going out in public due to increased incidents of racism due to perceptions of the current pandemic being associated with Asian countries.
In the few times I’ve been pulled over for a minor traffic infraction, my biggest worry is whether I’ll get a traffic ticket or just a warning.
These should not be “privileges.” They should be a minimum expectancy for every citizen. However, we’re simply not there yet. We’ve seen enough evidence, headlines, and stories to know this isn’t the reality for black men and women in America.
I was naive enough to believe we were embarking on a post-racial society with the 2008 election of Barack Obama. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Being “colorblind” is a wonderful pipedream but it is a dangerous lens to view current events in. It overlooks the covert racism that still exists in our institutions and diminishes the importance of black lives matter as a paradigm. We must start acknowledging and having uncomfortable conversations about race, ethnicity, and inequality.
Resources: books, movies, and documentaries
Below are some books, movies, and documentaries that I recommend to educate and inform. This is by no means a comprehensive list but are titles that came to mind as I have been reflecting the past few weeks. These works will inspire you, shake you, make you uncomfortable, and hopefully provoke important conversations that are needed both in and outside the home.
None of these are affiliate links as I do not wish to profit from these suggestions. I also encourage you to find these and other resources at your local library.
Movies and Mini-series
I also highly recommend the late film critic, Roger Ebert’s fantastic review of Hoop Dreams.