A few days ago, here at the University of Michigan, undergraduate computer science and electrical engineering students received a series of malicious emails that threatened the safety and lives of our African American and Jewish friends. These emails are still stirring the campus and our surrounding community, for they have provoked our deepest sentiments and worries. We call this place our hoMe, but yet there still seems to be a great threat of disconnection and separation.

I am an Asian-American woman and thus am labeled as a minority. As one who was born and raised in the South, I was exposed to great degrees of racism. My experiences have granted me with the ability to empathize and understand what it feels like to be enclosed in such pressing walls. I want to say that I stand in solidarity. I want to say that I am an ally. However, after some conversation and self-reflection, I have come to the realization that I am not ready for such a privilege. I have a heart for social justice but my heart has yet to find attachment to my body. My words have yet to find true action. My ability to empathize and understand is not enough.

This time, I call for change within myself. Before I can stand as a leader or as an activist, I must work on my personal implicit biases and my fear to escape the comfort zone.

I will no longer fall subject to labeling people with predetermined stereotypes.

Before I truly get to know you as a person, I will hold no preconceived judgement as to who you are.

I will no longer acknowledge stereotypes about myself.

I am Asian but no, the labels that society has associated me with are not a true reflection of who I am.

I will speak for you when you are silenced.

In fear of being labeled as “too opinionated” or “too serious,” I have sat in silence during conversations that contribute to institutionalized racism.

Now I have realized that my pride and image is of minimal value when my friends are silenced.

I will march for you when you are pushed down.

I am naturally introverted and scared of leaving an area of comfort and familiarity.

To put myself out there and to fight for someone other than myself is not easy, but I will strive to abandon this naivety so that my vulnerable friends can stand stronger.

These action items are a list of who I strive to be in order to have the dignity to stand as a believer and leader. However, I believe that these items are applicable to more than one and thus I encourage everyone to do the same. Break the social constructions that we have allowed to dominate our lives. Do not be afraid to speak and to march, for it is a community, a family and a society that you are fighting for. We belong here — encourage those who have been discouraged to believe so. 

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