I’ve always identified as Canadian first, then Asian. Who I am has always been more important than what I am, but humans like labelling things. I’ve been called White Wash (white covering something else), and Banana Boy (yellow covering white). Inevitably, white people think I look Asian, and Asians think I look white.
None of that ever bothered me. When I was a kid, the majority of my friends were white, and I openly referred to them as ‘my honkeys’.
But with the tragic death of George Floyd, I thought about racism, and the things people will witness without commenting.
Please note, this in no way is comparable to the outright murder of a man, but it was still something that stuck with me.
In high school I was called a dirty Korean dog eater, by a white girl looking to hurt me.
At the time, I didn’t have a response. A lot of people witnessed the altercation, some of them I counted as friends. I don’t remember if there were teachers, but regardless, no one said anything. She wasn’t punished, and I’d been so stunned by the insult I just walked away.
How do you argue with someone so violently opposed to rational discussion?
If you’d asked me a while back, I would have said the incident hadn’t affected me. Who gives a shit what a teenager yells into the void? But, ten years later, I still remember it.
I don’t remember the name of the girl who said it to me; I might not even be able to pick her out of a yearbook.
But I remember the insult; the irrational shame of a young man.
I never really thought about it before, but the petty shriek of some racist cunt resonates in my brain. The feeling of disappointment that in Canada, in the 21st century, such a thing wasn’t punished; that she thought it was something she could say full stop. She was an anti-intellectual; she’d picked on me for being a nerd before. But the go to, quick draw instinct she’d had was to insult me for what I looked like.
I’d like to think racism is on its way out. That as more enlightened people grow up, they pass their values and views onto the next generation. And then another cop, or some random white supremacist fuck-wit, kills another minority.
Disappointment is too mild a word.
The catharsis of writing this out has been surprising.