Hi! And thank you for taking the time to write me. I actually have a long list of things that I’d love to write about. Unfortunately, I don’t have enough time to do it. So, some things get shelved indefinitely or are forgotten about.
For instance, after the Trayvon Martin case, I wanted to blog about the injustice surrounding Vincent Chin. Though there were two off-duty police officers who witnessed the murder, his killers walked away with serving ZERO jail time.
I remember that time period well, because I — like a lot of other Asian-Americans — were fearful that we would be attacked by racists who assumed we were Japanese and therefore taking all the jobs away from real ‘mericans. (Ironically, we were the ONLY family I knew that even drove American-made cars.)
I remember my father plastering our cars with flags of the United States. He was very proud to be a U.S. citizen, but I know that the main motivating factor was he hoped that any potential racists would leave us alone.
I want to blog one day about why, to this day, I don’t like driving with my car windows open. I remember being in a car with my father when kids threw rocks at him, hitting him in the head. They were playing, “Hit the chink.” After they hit their target, they screamed racial slurs, bowed at our car and ran away laughing.
I remember getting hit in the head with rocks in the schoolyard and being briefly knocked out. I was about 9 or 10 years old. The older boys hit me by “accident.” None of them were punished. The teachers and principal didn’t do anything. The school never notified my parents, because they didn’t think it warranted a call. Of course, I never told my parents either. I didn’t want them to worry.
Someone else privately messaged me and asked why I wrote so much about things that had happened in the past. Do I write about it so much? I’ve been writing professionally for the past three decades and I’d estimate that my pieces surrounding race issues encompass less than 1% of everything I’ve ever written.
But, I am writing about it more now than I ever have, probably because I have a forum to do so. There’s also the fact that I have kept much of it bottled up. Now that I’m a mother, however, I want it to be better for my child. I want to show him that this kind of behavior isn’t acceptable and should not be tolerated. And that the onus falls on the perpetrators, not the targets.
Some of my non-Asian friends have told me they are surprised when they read my posts, because they say that they have never seen or heard these things happen. I’m really glad. It wouldn’t make me happy to know that any of these things had happened to them. But, I also point out to them that there’s no reason anyone would ching chong them. They’re white.
It’s not our fault for being perceived as “different.” However, it is the fault of racists who make an issue of it.
© 2013 JAE-HA KIM
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