The question I’ve always fumbled around my head was “how does a “yellow” person enter the conversation about race in a “Black v white” America?” Common yet subtle experiences have conditioned me to approach this exploration with caution. I remember once in middle school our class was divided into two — majority and minorities — then prompted to discuss racism through an implicitly binary point of view. Though I believe my teacher’s intentions were good, the exercise was silencing. My East Asian exterior represented a name tag that screamed “Model Minority.” My peers saw me as someone with the best of both worlds: My race’s history was clean and comparatively, I will not experience discrimination to the hateful degree that many other minority groups must prepare for. Whilst my classmates bounced experiences and facts back and forth — expanding their perspectives, learning to articulate their racial identity relevant to the social landscape of our American society — I, the only Asian American in the room, stayed quiet because I believed that as an Asian American I did not have anything to contribute.
I not only believed that I didn’t have a place in the race conversation, but overtime, I supposed that I did not need to be a part of it…
… which could not be further from the truth.
When I was introduced to Michigan in Color, I realized that this was an opportunity to start articulating and sharing my repentance in thinking that I could turn a blind eye to racism (whether on an individual scope or systematically). I realized that just because I don’t experience deep degrees of injustice does not mean I can overlook the fact that it exists. As Martin Luther King Jr. so fervently expressed (and Former President Obama reminded), “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” For I now understand that if someone has the power to combat systematic oppression or speak out against discrimination, it is not a privilege, but a responsibility to do so.
WIth that being said, I am empowered to use MiC as a platform to stress that every individual, no matter their background, must partake in the social movement for justice and equality. And finally, I would like to say that I am so blessed and encouraged to be a part of the Michigan in Color community (if even only for a semester) and I cannot wait to see what wonderful things this year has in store.