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Yellow is the new Black

I remember this one conversation I had at lunch at the last place I worked at. I think somebody had mentioned that if you work hard, or keep your head down, good things will happen to you. Or something like that.

I don’t like getting angry, and I think I wasn’t all that great at keeping my shit together before my sabbatical. But I wasn’t happy about that then and I think it’s one of the few things I’ll get upset about now. I told the group I was eating with, “Bad people don’t come after you because you’ve wronged them. They come after you because you can’t stop them. All you do by sticking your head in the sand is to not hear the wolves until they’re clawing at your front door”.

It was a very quiet lunch.

That was eons ago, back in 2019.

I think I’ve mentioned some of my racial experiences on this blog before, but I don’t think I’ve ever really forcefully spoken out for things like “murder is usually wrong” and “facts matter”, not just because I didn’t think they were controversial positions, but because I didn’t want to cause a fuss.

You know what, I think it’s finally here. Discrimination against Asian-Americans, fuelled by the far right (or maybe just the right), skyrocketed during last year. I think this TIME article captures the general mood. Before that, the murder of Vincent Chin captured the dark side of what it means to be an ethnic minority in a race-obsessed country. Vincent was 27 years old when he was murdered. I’m 26. Came from Michigan too.

All this, from the tutorial pandemic.

To be fair, I haven’t personally experienced any discrimination of any real note. The company I work for now is great at promoting diversity and inclusion, and trusting our coworkers and being vulnerable with each other, and I think it’s great. The D.C. area is generally filled with public servants who believe in the greater good, and lobbyists who like Asian money, and so I generally don’t think there’s any huge issues at least where I live. But that isn’t to say there isn’t a storm coming. I think if there was a conflict in the South China Sea, or if otherwise China and U.S. came to arms and U.S. soldiers came home in bodybags by the thousands, things will be a lot different. At best, I’ll be asked to prove my loyalty. At worst, I’ll never get the chance.

My fantasy is if I do get sent off to the camps, whatever camps they may be, I’ll have the time to sell my apartment and all my belongings to one of my friends (who is white and female) for $420.69. Just go out on a meme, you know.

I’m actually a bit torn in terms of being discriminated against. On one hand, I do think it helps to look other minorities in the face. After watching innocent black people shot by the police, hispanic kids ripped away from their parents, and muslims and sikhs getting profiled very non-randomly at airports, I figure that maybe it’s just our turn. Why should we get to sit one out? It’s just part of the American experience.

On the other hand, I really hope I don’t get beaten over the head with a baseball bat. That would suck.

Now that it’s starting to happen to people with my eye shape and skin color, I feel like it’s time to not sit it out. It was always a farcical belief that racial discrimination would always touch some groups of people and never touch others. The phrase “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere” is dazzingly large to take in, but it’s still true nonetheless.

I don’t think in the end, anything I will do will matter. So I think it’s important to speak out, to show you didn’t go quietly into the night. A small protest against the impending darkness, not because many small lights added together keeps the darkness away, but because holding a torch in the rain is the choice of a free man.

So here goes.






Thank you, I’ll be here all week.