Good afternoon everyone, I hope you’ve been well!
I delayed this post for a while, but now, I figure it might be a cathartic experience to share a few my feelings behind the scenes. Sometimes, I hold things privately inside too long with nowhere to turn. Even my own family doesn’t want to chat about it too long, because they have things to do and lives to live.
Back in May, Shenequa Golding, a writer on Medium, wrote an article, “Maintaining Professionalism In The Age of Black Death Is….A Lot“
I just witnessed the lynching of a black man, but don’t worry Ted, I’ll have those deliverables to you end of the day.Shenequa Golding.
A friend shared that article with me, and I concurred. Remaining composed at work without feeling exasperated in the midst of current events took a lot of effort.
Last year, I was sitting in the school cafeteria chatting to a friend about the “Black Lives Matter” movement. I told him how interesting that it was raising awareness about various instances of systemic racism and how people were quickly mobilizing.
He responded, “What started off as a well-meaning cause turned into an anti-white sentiment.” He continues to explain about the New Black Panthers Party and goes on to describe certain parallels.
As I listened to his story, I realized that my current knowledge-base regarding various societal issues seemed out of date.
What Does It Mean to Live in a Bubble?
When I was a teenager, I had a classmate who jokingly asked another girl, his crush, sitting in front of me, “Did I just pop your bubble?” He was pretending to sprinkle fairy dust on everyone. (Imagination was prized in my circles. 😉 )
It was the first time I heard of that phrase. I was curious as people in my life frequently peppered their conversations with this phrase. But, what does it actually mean? This morning I look to the members of Quora to see what they have to say:
“To live in a bubble means you’re refusing to update your information pipelines for a changing world and your changing role in it, which lowers your chances of success in life, and likely annoys everyone you interact with. You have a particular information network. That’s what you know and trust. You’ve settled into it over the last few years because you genuinely feel it’s the best route to balanced, quality information like literally everyone else thinks.” – John Kyle Varley
“The saying “living in a bubble” is similar to that of “living under a rock.” Both sayings imply that you are separated from society. Bubbles for the most part are translucent. So, someone who lives in a bubble can see what goes on in society but is completely sheltered. However, it is very easy to pop someone’s bubble, or break the barrier that separates them from the rest of the world.” – Ruth Ipince
“Used during political discourse it means surrounding yourself with only opinions similar to your own and unwillingness to even listen to contrary opinions or evidence.” – J. J. Grey
“To me, living in a bubble means, I am attending my basic needs. Until those are satisfied, my interest is largely focused there. Until peoples’ basic needs are met, access to non-toxic food, access to unadulterated and clean drinking water, access to health care, and safe living conditions, keeping up with the latest news and events that don’t directly affect them, is not a priority.” – Barb Kueber
Shielding My Mental Health
A few months earlier, I was resting for the sake of my mental health and took a break from blogging. I even requested a leave of absence from school for a period of time because my concentration was broken by things I could not ignore.
I started to set boundaries about how much news I was going to consume. I just needed enough to know what was going on, but some days I wanted to follow a trail on a particular topic. Avoiding the temptation to click and read proved to be difficult. Before I knew it, minutes turned into hours and hours turned into days.
I started writing fragments of my thoughts back in May thinking I could share what I was experiencing in real-time, but I put it aside because I was too upset. I felt like I had to keep up with my peers by raising awareness otherwise, it would seem like I didn’t care, but it was difficult.
While some of my friends were protesting, there were some on the other side of the spectrum who didn’t care at all or at least care for the riots anyway. I felt like some kind of change could be brought about afterward despite the violence and destruction, as it did for the LGBT+ community post-Stonewall. I wanted time to process and think and return to it later.
“I’ve been consumed with grief and anger concerning current events in the United States. Transforming this anger to some form of compassion takes time. Even now, I just seem to be shaking as I type. Friends and neighbors have protested, fought for justice, and created activist groups in the midst of a COVID-19 surge.”Personal thoughts back in May
Processing the Deluge
My friends’ timelines and social feeds were suddenly packed with resources, books, ideas, art shows, and gatherings. Then, the protesters and riots began to organize. My mother called me informing me that some protesters destroyed several businesses around town.
It was sad to see the aftermath of the destruction before our eyes. Though this was a fact, I felt like she said some careless things afterward, and I attempted to stay calm and explain how emotionally upset people were at various injustices that she might not be completely aware of.
One of the leaders in my service organization gave an impassioned speech about interrupting your happy bubble for just a moment to consider the various things that blacks in America experience on a daily basis. He listed various things in his day-to-day life, experiences surrounding racial profiling, and shielding his one year son from these topics until he was older.
I don’t think defunding the police is a wise course of action, as there are good officers who help protect and lay down their life for their community. However, police brutality is a serious issue to address.
When news broke out about Ahmaud Arbery, I cried when I found out about the story. Earnestly, I decided to run for justice out of support of a fellow runner. I couldn’t jog downtown with the other advocates with the pandemic going on, so I jogged 2.23 miles around the field by myself. I posted #IRunForMaud hashtags wherever I could. My idle mind asked, “What else can I do in the middle of the pandemic?”
Stay informed, for one thing. I’m currently reading “Just Mercy” by Bryan Stevenson, an attorney who founded the Equal Justice Initiative. It was dedicated to “defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and those trapped in the furthest reaches of our criminal justice system.”
The Indignity of Microaggressions
One day, on my way to the Spanish club, I noticed that the Black Student Union at my school posted about various graphics briefly describing “microaggressions” to their social media pages. At the time, I was unaware that there was even a term for things I noticed in my daily life.
Andrew Limbong, a reporter for National Public Radio, interviewed Kevin Nadal, a professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, who spent years researching and writing books on the effects of microaggressions. As these big structural issues play out, he says it’s important to confront the small stuff.
To be clear, the “micro” in microaggression doesn’t mean that these acts can’t have big, life-changing impacts. They can, which is all the more reason to address them when you see them.Andrew Limbong, NPR article – “Microaggressions Are A Big Deal: How To Talk Them Out And When To Walk Away“
Kevin Nadal: Microaggressions are defined as the everyday, subtle, intentional — and oftentimes unintentional — interactions or behaviors that communicate some sort of bias toward historically marginalized groups.
The difference between microaggressions and overt discrimination or macroaggressions, is that people who commit microaggressions might not even be aware of them.
Someone commenting on how well an Asian American speaks English, which presumes the Asian American was not born here, is one example of a microaggression.
Building a Bridge When You Don’t Feel Like It
Solemnly smiling, Kevin described an experience that I’ve encountered before. At the time, I was very surprised, but not necessarily hurt. Then, my mother’s thoughts trail in my mind. “When people first look at you, they’re going to see an Asian first, then American later.”
I was more hurt when that same elderly woman thought I had a fifth-grade education and called me a fraud. She proceeded to “teach” me as I was serving her as a cashier in the checkout lane. The peculiar thing was that, in the midst of this unnerving interaction, I took a deep breath and was nice and patient with her.
I wanted to overcome these tenuous bonds. I felt like I walking in a dark forest with thick, heavy brush, and if I never addressed these issues I would start to wander in grim areas if I didn’t build a bridge to cross to new destinations. The question I asked myself was, “If I choose to build this bridge, will it lead me into danger?”
She was delighted that someone was listening. I wasn’t sure if it was against my better judgment, but providing excellent service is my nature in spite of who I was dealing with. I could always call a manager if things got out of hand. So, I bit my tongue multiple times and wrote several personal letters of frustration and diary entries to myself.
If I was going to learn from her, she will certainly learn from me. We learn from every personal interaction, and every experience shapes us.My thought rationale
I understood that she grew up in a particular time where many minority groups didn’t have access to certain levels of education. She had a preconceived notion of various members of society, not just Asians. We developed an extended relationship where I knew her name, her background, and her profession.
I was sympathetic when she told me someone poisoned her dog. She got to know me and my goals in life. When I told her I was moving, she took a smiling picture of me for her memory. She thanked me for being very nice to her all this time, and that she wasn’t going to forget me. Likewise, I will not forget this snarky lady with a caring heart buried underneath several cynical layers of life experiences.
The Calm After a Storm
Some of my close friends from my childhood are black. They just delivered baby boys, and I can’t imagine what they might be feeling as they hold onto their babies a little tighter. To think their lives might be more in danger due to recent events caused me some stress.
In the past, I remembered a situation where my coworker pulled out a race card just because I looked at him a little funny when he told me he was dating five women at the same time. I got really frustrated when he used this card to guilt-trip others to get out of certain responsibilities or to get away with certain behavior. However, there were times I felt sorry for him. He slept with a gun nearby at all times.
When I was a young adult, I remembered writing a paper about how I was against affirmative action policies because I wanted people to be recognized for their merit first. What I failed to realize at the time was that there are a variety of environmental factors that could be holding people back from achieving their goals.
I wonder why I feel this way. If I were raised in a completely different country with different values, would I still feel the same? Would my daily concerns be very different? Yet, a quote by Martin Luther King leaves an impact in my mind:
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.Martin Luther King
I grew up reading stories of tragic injustices surrounding American Black history: the Little Rock 9, Trayvon Martin, Breona Taylor, and multitudes of others. My parents did not and were raised learning a completely different history and narrative. I wonder if that played such a huge part in them being detached from certain issues.
It touched a nerve differently this time. It was one thing to study it in history books. It’s another to live through history in the making.
Thanks again for following along. Until next time! ❤