When I go out in public, I do as I have from childhood—I try to blend in. Not draw attention to myself. Be invisible.
Maybe they won’t realize I’m not white.
I often joke that I don’t like people, but the truth is, I do not seek out interaction with strangers because I’ve been conditioned to expect a racist response. I have lived this for as long as I have memory. I have endured the second glances, the outright stares, the taunts, the slurs, the intimidation. And unless you’ve been through it, you cannot possibly understand how it trains you to be afraid of people.
I am an Asian American woman, who when she goes out in her white Upper Peninsula town, breathes a sigh of relief that her kids look more like their Irish/English father than their Korean mother. That maybe they’ll be spared the subtle (and not so subtle) racism she’s experienced as an Asian American growing up in America.
This election was about many things, I get it. And you may be reading this and think, I am not a racist. That is not why I voted for Trump. But must realize that for many of your fellow Americans—who love this country just as much as you do, who worry about the economy and jobs and clean water and community safety, as you do—that there is an extra layer of fear after this election. Not that we didn’t know racism was still alive and thriving in America (because we live it daily), but that this Trump win can’t help but feel like an endorsement.
An elderly white woman struck up a conversation with my son and me at Walmart the other day while we were waiting in the checkout line. It was one of the most pleasant interactions I’ve had with a stranger in a long time. Perhaps she saw us and was trying to reach out in a way she normally would not have done. It didn’t strike me until she left the store that I was grateful for that simple act. That even though my son won’t remember it, maybe it will help shape his experience. And for me, that light exists in places you least expect to find it. And that you have to come out of the shadows to see it.
I am trying to find more light in my life.