When I speak about racial issues, as an Asian-American male, no matter how poised, calm, and conscientiously I phrase my words, I will be seen as overreacting, angry, or pushing buttons. Granted, in the realm of preaching to a choir, I can be seen as empowering for others to speak up–but for those beyond the pulpit, well, for me to bring up racial issues provides a product of discomfort.
However, I’ve recently had an experience where a white woman spoke the same words that have left my mouth to the same audience. She was seen as, well, poised, well-spoken, and thoughtful.
I feel as though I am in a social climate that only allows me to be one-dimensional on the basis of being a person of color–white people, however, are allowed to be given depth, layers, dimensions in personality.
Socially, I feel that people are beholden to the tropes that are presented to us by the entertainment industry. White characters are largely given depth, character development, lead roles. Characters of color, and a lot of female characters both white and non-white, are given limited depth, very little development, are are generally only there to support a white male lead.
Life imitates art, in this case.
Often, I just want to give up. I want to just sign off on the idea that I’ll never be taken seriously. If I speak up and speak frankly, I’m attacking the norm and bringing up ideas and micro-aggressions that some people just never really thing of. The alternative is keeping my head down and just taking it, because that’s the norm, that’s what’s expected, because race is just supposed to be an elephant in the room.
The thing is, yes, I am an angry minority. I’m angry about the state of racial social politics. The thing is, it seems like white folks just want me to not be angry and I just want them to at least seriously ask “Why are you angry?”
I just want to integrate without having to assimilate. Social exploration seems to stop abruptly when it comes to seriously speak about race. I’d like to think that someday, I’d be able to candidly speak about race and be taken seriously on my own terms.