Written by a good friend of mine, republished with her permission.
I don’t know how to explain that satirizing racism by using racism towards a marginalized group is not edgy or revolutionary or anti-racist. I don’t know how to accurately convey the hurt and fear and frustration your comment engenders. I don’t know how to explain why basic survival often feels like an impossibility.
If I do know anything, it is that this is my lived reality:
Sit down. Shut up. Be respectful. This country greeted you with open arms, don’t you know? You are an American. Kids follow you around singing, “Ching-chong, ding-dong.” Kids laugh as they pull at the corner of their eyes. Deal with it. You are not American enough.
Hate your parents for their accent, this undeniable evidence of their foreignness. Live in terror of them speaking in public. Hate the color of your yellow skin. Hate the shape of your almond eyes. Pray to whatever God you believe in (and the ones you don’t) to make you white. Pay whatever companies promise to Americanize you. Your parents ask why you have forgotten your culture. Ignore them. You will be American enough.
Grow up. Become the model minority society says you are. Quash down the suspicion that your classmates are only nice because you share your notes. At age 12: “Asian women are so hot.” At age 14: “You’re Asian, so you must be good in bed.” Society says you are still too young for sex, but don’t you dare question why these men never got the message.
Go to college. Meet liberals who throw around the words “solidarity” and “allyship”. Learn that men, especially gay white men, know all about oppression. Trust that these people are on your side. Realize with horror that “I hate colored people” is acceptable when framed as a joke. Realize with horror that you traded one toxic environment for another. Find your voice, your strength. Speak up. See how the white liberals cower when you say the word “race”. Do not mistake this for power.
White moderates believe in fighting racism with racism, no matter how much it hurts you. Haven’t you tried talking to your oppressors? Your oppressors are your friends. Your feelings do not matter. Recognize that telling this story promises pain (you asked for it, you bitch). Recognize that not telling this story means girls who look like you will follow in your footsteps. Do not laugh at the irony.
Sit down. Shut up. Be respectful. This country greeted you with gritted teeth and the chink, chink, chink of cheap railroad labor. Your lived reality was only ever a thought experiment. Your lived reality was only ever a punch line.