Okay so this is kind of a weird post because I know what I want to say, but I can’t quite figure out what the POINT of it is. I have been thinking in-depth a lot about racism lately. Racism is such a heavy word, I feel like people are going to read that and just close this post because they don’t want to be lectured but this isn’t really a lecture this is one of those classic Katherine ‘stream of consciousness’ type posts that rambles and kind of just doesn’t really have a start, middle or end.
The thing is, my whole life I have always known deep down that it is ‘better’ to be white.
Writing this now I can see it’s a stupid statement, but at the same time it is an accurate statement of how I have felt over large periods of my life. I am Chinese. I was born in New Zealand. I grew up here and I live here now. I recall wishing I was white when I was in Primary School. In Intermediate. In High School. My mom told me she remembers the same thing. I have become used to racist comments, brushing them off as ‘jokes’ in order to fit in. The amount of times I have heard, “I’m not being racist, but…” is countless. It is almost like I have been surrounded by so many various forms of racism for so long that I am almost immune to it.
Or I have given up.
My mother has given up. When I recently told her about this whole Ya Ya Club is-it-or-isn’t-it-racist thing (for lack of a better word), she laughed. She laughed when I told her about the comments I’d read online about how hilarious it is watching Asian people park cars. She laughed at the comment (like, with the person who had written it) and she said to me, “what are you going to do about it? That’s just how life is.” And I felt disappointed and sad. Partly for her and all other non-white people out there, and partly for me because I sort of agreed, and by sort of agreeing it meant that I had sort of given up too.
It isn’t easy to shake, that feeling that it is ‘better to be white’. It isn’t easy to shake when you have spent your entire life not being white and suffering the consequences of it. It’s the little things – parallel parking and knowing you’re being watched extra carefully (though I think this also applies to any females because not only are a lot of people racist, they’re also sexist), having people get you to work out how to divide the bill because ‘you’re Asian, you’re good at maths, right?’, being asked if you’ve eaten a dog, being asked if I can ‘see out of those slits’, being asked about what kind of shit I can do with ping pong balls, just being talked to in broken English for no reason other than to demonstrate how hilarious it is to hear people whose second language is English. It’s all just ‘jokes’, but the funny part (or not so funny part, really) is that you can laugh all you like, but in the end all the little ‘jokes’ just build on the existing animosity many already have towards Asian people. It’s just a reaffirmation of how important and powerful white people are, and how inadequate everyone else is.
This is not to say that anyone who says something racist, is racist (good article about this here), but more that a lot of people are ignorant, and I have been accepting this. I wouldn’t say that I was feeding racism, but I definitely haven’t been putting any kind of stop to it which makes me feel like maybe I’m being a bad non-white person or something.
So. Where to from here?
I don’t know.