hoping to someday be a force of nature
I had already accepted that the majority of my class aren't people I look forward to knowing in the future. I had already addressed the inexplicable things they have said or done. I was at peace with all of this until my last year of middle school began. I used to be the quiet observer of my year group. I stuck to my friend circle and only conversed with those who I knew wouldn't bring inappropriate things into our discussion. Don't get me wrong: I'm all for a dirty joke, however if a discriminatory remark, prejudiced opinion, or a borderline racist/sexist/homophobic comment finds their way into a sentence I am instantly repulsed.
I am not here to exploit anyone. I'm not naming names, hinting appearances or even establishing sexes. This is not a radio rebel situation ( +5 points for anyone who understands that reference )
I was recently sitting in a classroom work period. The usual atmosphere was present: a manageable noise level, unnecessarily hot temperatures for a classroom when the windows could just be opened and a slightly aggravated teacher. I decided to tune into a conversation being had between two students. It started off mildly offensive and quickly escalated. I'll spare you the details, since this conversation is so specifically horrible that even a minor detail will give it away. One thing I can say is that as the discussion veered towards asian culture, one student said these exact words:
"China, *laughs* ching chong ching chong"
"CHING CHONG CHING CHONG"
I have no words. The fact that this was so painfully obviously and stereotypically cliché made it difficult not to laugh. CHING CHONG CHING CHONG. Really?
I was also recently reminded that people who claim to be progressive and accepting of everyone may not be there yet after all. A classroom discussion turned into a heated debate where one student said something clearly prejudiced. Someone who I not only saw as a human who was - quoting my sister - " woke " but someone I didn't expect to hear something like that from. Again, I cannot reveal what they said since their identity would be obvious to some.
I am Asian. Yeah, you've established that * rolling of eyes * . So it is natural that in a predominantly white school I experience more prejudice than others. There are not many teachers who can or want to explain why it's wrong to look at someone differently judging on their race. In my experience, when talking to a teacher about an issue concerning this subject, I have been met with a paraphrased version of:
"They may have experienced racism themselves"
"That is reverse - racist "
*creation powerpoint skimming the surface of racism presented in under half an hour without anything actually important within*
What is not done is the individualised punishment or consequences that come with being racist. Responding to an accusation of racism with the "reverse-racism" concept is one of the weakest attempts at defending oneself. Not only has it been done by fellow classmates, but by people in power too: teachers and members of admin.
Since September 2017 I have experienced more prejudice, sexism and racism than I have in all my previous years combined. I do not know whether it is because as I grow older I become more aware and in reality I just haven't been addressing it as much as I have recently, or wether it is just because as I grow older and go through my teen years, I am an easier target. I don't know whether people can change or at least improve, nor am I sure what to do exactly if they don't.
Not once have I confronted racism and walked away feeling empowered. I always walk away fists clenched, regretting a phrase or a gesture. Overthinking something that was probably just waved off by the other. Doubting my own opinion.
You may think one of the people I mentioned in this post is you. Who knows? It very well might be. Honestly it probably is if you had to think about it...and you should do something to change that. Good Luck.