This is week 46 of #TWmemorymondays. I'm home in California, and am currently with my sister, brother-in-law, and new born baby niece!!! So I decided to revisit something that happened a couple days ago - you might have read about it already. At the end, I have some new thoughts. So here is what I wrote:
"Wow. So yesterday I was in an uber, and the driver was a white man probably in his early 60s. And he asked about what I do and about my art. He talked about learning about modern art for a while (like too long), and then brought up something he read about with a black artist involved. And I shared that my art explores race, identity, and being in America. He was shocked! And then called me "Oriental," which I quickly corrected him that I and Asians don't like being called that - it's offensive to me - because "Oriental" is used to describe objects and not people. I explained that I would like to be referred to as Chinese or Asian. He was silent about it. Then goes on and called me that two more times.
Then proceeds to tell me that ASIANS don't encounter racism and ONLY black people do. !!!!!!! And I said that's absolutely not true!! I've not only seen it many times and have encountered it many times too! He keeps on explaining to me that asians are seen as educated and well respected in America - and that's Asians really aren't oppressed. And then I said that's part of the model minority myth that was put into play to pit Asians against black people - which was post Chinese exclusion act that lasted into the 40s. So what he said is part of systematic racism and a total misconception. And he said that's true that there was racism against Asians in the 40s - but not now. Because no one he knows is racist against Asians, and that "there is not a racist bone in his body." I said "I don't know about that!"
THIS is what I'm talking about when I say well intentioned white people supporting a racism system. I don't care if you're older. It's dangerous. It costs lives. It's violent."
I have some new thoughts about this. FIRST: that conversation cost me emotionally/mentally/physically next to nothing. It made me mad of course! But compared to more "mild" conversations I've had to people I know and care about...that conversation with the Uber driver was NOTHING. So I'm learning how to read my body and emotional capacity well, and this was helpful to know.
SECOND: mansplaining and misogyny was very present. He heard what I said (he didn't really listen to me though) and went on to tell me that I was wrong and he didn't believe what I had to say about MY OWN experience. Very very classic. The intersection of my ethnicity and gender contributed to this dynamic (I highly suspect). It's very bizarre when people try to defend their not-racist-badge only to prove the complete opposite.
THIRD: white supremacy usually hides itself behind well meaning "nice" people. The whole conversation was very "nice" toned while the content was very ignorant and racist. This is how racism thrives!
Lesson: if you're EVER defending how you're not racist, you definately are. Allies of POCs are first to admit privilege and biases. They listen. They believe. They are first to yield. They put in the work.
#TWmemorymondays: A painting inspired by a memory every Monday of 2018. Connecting abstract art to real life. Week 46/53. 'Listen' / 8x8 in / mixed media on paper