This post talks about sensitive matters. This post is my view on the specific issue, it does not reflect on, nor speak out for anyone else but me.
I came across a post on Instagram the other day about Asian racism issue and how ‘it was not the time to talk about it’. When is the right time though? I think when it IS time to talk about the issue, it would have been too late – think George Floyd and the black lives matter movement that turned America into the worst PR disaster a country has to go through.
This issue is a sore spot for anyone - discrimination always is. The reason I want to bring it up today is that it reminded me of so many times when (the majority) people shut me down when I brought up the issue - or when I shed some light on the matter and spoke the truth. They deemed me as being rude, harsh, too vocal, should know my place, and all other things, that were indicating on how I should just shut it and accept it.
To make you understand how important this issue is for me is by knowing how it was for me growing up in a country like Indonesia, and its underlying problems. Being an archipelago with thousands of islands, different ethnic groups, five main religions (that is legally acknowledged), we have a lot of humanitarian crisis, A LOT!
Asians attacking Asians? You better believe it. Us humans, unfortunately, have evolved into the conflict-seeking beings that always manage to find some excuses to attack each other. Scary huh?
So imagine being of Chinese descent, and (born as) a Catholic, in a country where we are the minority group where the perception is not all positive. I was bullied throughout my youth, at school by friends, teachers (yes, even teachers), neighbours, random people on the street, even when I had my first job interview. Just because I look a certain way, pray a certain way - oh, add being gay into that mix - and I am a walking target. I was on a train one day heading home from school when two guys insulted me and pointed a knife on my back, before taking my money,
Chinese scum, filthy Chinese, slit eye, and other harsh words you can think of - I heard them all.
Then 1998 happened. The reformation era, the scariest time for us, the minority group, we became the target for the riot that did not happen because of us - but because of political issues involving the second president. Yet, somehow, the Chinese minority was the victim. Raped, murdered, Chinese-owned businesses were destroyed, many of us fled the country, some of us hid in small pockets around the country where it was in a way safer for us. I was in college when it happened, my parents and brother were in Jakarta where it all happened, but they were far from the main riot areas. I was told not to go home at any cause, stay where I was - but you can imagine how worried I was.
Things get better after that, the Chinese New Year that was not really a thing, or recognised, is now a public holiday. People started to change - in some ways - but we are no fools, we stay vigilant, some of us even have a getaway kit at the ready whenever something like that happens again. We prepared a suitcase filled with necessary documents, passports, and essential things standing by - in case we need to flee the country. Imagine living in that state of fear, day in and day out. But thankfully, it has not come to that yet. We are now in an OK situation, yes there are still racial issues happening every now and then, but I think the government is somewhat on it for now.
When the Black Lives Matter movement happened in America, we were, in a way, relieved that it happened as it was due to take place. The oppressed fought back, and people will have to acknowledge the truth that has stayed hidden - or more precisely, ignored - all this time. And I did post using #BlackLivesMatter - but also, #AllLivesMatter - because discrimination is not only happening to black people, it happens everywhere, not only in America. I got some backlash on that particular post, as well as my comments on some feeds. I did not blame them for lashing at me, I decided to speak my truths on the issue. Unfortunately, the ones that lashed back were not of the minority group, they were mostly white. Now, do not get me wrong, they were not being ignorant or anything, they just did not know of other issues happening around the world as they focused on what happened in the USA. And thankfully, after I replied to them with facts - they mostly understood where I came from. I gave them the truth, facts, different views on the issue, and luckily for me, they got it. However, that is not always the case.
Let us get down to the main issue, truth.
A discussion on the Black Lives Matter movement led to several kinds of research related to the issue. One of which was on bringing out the truth to the surface. A group of psychologists did a study and found that when the minority group spoke of the matter, they were deemed as being overreacting, complaining, and so on. But it was an entirely different thing when it was brought up by the non-minority, the white people, the rich, the privileged (we will get to this on another post). Why is that? They found that it has always been that way for centuries, their voice has always been - in a way - ignored. It kills me to hear that, yet I can definitely relate to that.
Being a minority (or oppressed), means you are deemed less than the others. Our voice does not matter - not only with huge problems such as racism or other humanitarian issues but also on a smaller scale.
Take us Asians in general. In the western world, Asians are labelled as being submissive, frail, passive - and fetishised. In the LGBT world, it is even worse. I had several interracial relationships over the years, and sadly, the guys I was dating saw me as precisely that, submissive. So when I do open my mouth and stood up for myself, I was being rude, harsh, etc. While when they spoke up to me about things, those were the truths - their truths, nothing else matters. I did at some stage live up to those labels, I took it day in, and day out, whatever they said, I just nodded along and remained silent. But lines were crossed, and I had to talk back - enough is enough.
Truth is people - no matter what their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation - have the rights to speak up. Truth is we no longer wish to stay silent anymore. Fact is we should be willing to get the truth as much as we are giving them out. It will not be easy, I am still learning too, but I hope by shedding some lights on this, you will take the step to try to do the same thing.
With all the shit the world has to go through at the moment, I think we should just fucking drop the labels altogether and start seeing each other as humans, and start listening to each other. Listening does not mean agreeing but respecting and understanding our views on things. Just because we disagree, does not mean you are right and I am wrong, and vice versa.
Truths come in many forms, colours, races, genders, beliefs, religions, sexual orientations, educational backgrounds, social classes, and so on. The truths are stories, stories are meant to be listened to, acknowledged, understood, and appreciated.
And that, whoever you are, is my current truth.