The article about Mindy Kaling’s obsession with white men triggered my depressive feelings. Not at first – the day before I read it, thought to myself, yeah, great points, and retweeted it and went about my night. The next day, though, I noticed more emotions of dread and frustration creeping up. Against my will I started thinking about messages I’ve received about my desirability as an Asian American nonbinary/male-adjacent person and other experiences of racism in my life.

It’s easy for me to acknowledge the anti-Asian racism I’ve faced in my life. A couple of weeks ago, on my way to my Asian book club, a white woman yelled and cursed at me as I tried to enter my friend’s apartment (many of my friends of color commented on Boston’s racism when I matched here; now I witnessed it first-hand). I remember how some of my high school English teachers treated me as less competent than my lighter-skinned or white-passing peers of color. In the dating realm, I’ve observed several occasions where queer men of color will exclusively pursue white men or even where queer Asian American men will only pursue queer lighter-skinned east Asian American men.

It’s harder to sit with how this anti-Asian racism makes me feel. I like to think of myself as an empowered person who goes after what I want in the world. So when it comes to issues like other queer Asian American men not perceiving me as desirable, I generally process it like, well, I don’t really care if any man finds me attractive anyway, so why should I care if someone who hasn’t worked through his internalized racism likes me? But, as I talked about with one of my bffs Bri recently, even if I don’t care about whether this specific man finds me attractive, it’s still distressing to witness the effects of colorism, racism, and colonialism in such an immediate way. Even if I don’t care about what my racially-biased former high school English teachers think or what that random white woman in Boston feels toward me, it’s doesn’t make me weak to acknowledge that facing racism is unpleasant.

I remember feeling suicidal for a couple weeks or so as a child due to my mother’s abuse.* Even back then, suicidal ideation felt too passive for me; I shifted to anorexia after a couple of weeks because I wanted my distress to take a more active form, through ironically disempowering methods like restricting my food intake and weighing myself every day. That uncomfortable feeling of passivity emerged for me again earlier that same day when I let myself feel how racism has affected my life.

But, now that I’m an adult, I have more power to take action against the forces that hurt me. Once I recognized how this racism made me feel, I reached out to friends for social support and their validation helped me feel less alone. I’ve actively invested myself into research, therapy, writing, teaching, and relationship-building that’s anti-racist. Even if none of my efforts make an actual difference, I defined my life for myself, instead of letting people erase me or internalizing people’s racism against me.

*if you or someone else you know is experiencing acute mental health concerns, you can call 988 for support

How have you coped with discrimination and oppression in your life? General reactions to this post? Though the tone of this post may be somber, I am doing quite well after writing it! I am mostly obsessed with NewJeans’s “Ditto” (surprise) – the nostalgia vibes and that dance beat, so amazing. Until next post.


Filed under Personal, Society

8 responses to “Weak

  1. I’m glad to see your note at the end that you are doing OK, as I was about to initiate … well “send a messenger message” was all I could do really. I’m not surprised you were stung by the message in the article just after experiencing this horrible, overt racism: the two are going to amplify each other.

    I am fortunate and privileged to be White, hetero (although I know so many members of the local “pink triangle” I am apparently now lesbian-adjacent, which I’m proud of!), cisgender and middle-class, however I do still get sexist abuse quite a lot (especially when running – I’ve started to disappear wrt street abuse in general, but not when running). It makes me feel absolutely horrible, threatened and frightened and yes, weak. Not always, but one or more in close succession or a particularly bad one will, definitely anything experienced alone. I cope by still going out, finding allies if I’m actually scared (I got maybe followed maybe not by someone in the park a few months ago and ran over to a postal worker and asked him to pretend he knew me; the guy following me was racialised as Black so I didn’t point him out or report it) and talking about it. With a friend who’s getting sexist abuse regularly from a park worker we’ve encouraged her to report it and offered to accompany her. It’s all you can do really.

    You will be gone from racist Boston before you know it; I hope Philly is a kinder place.

    • Thank you for your kind comment and willingness to check in on me. (: Yes, I appreciate you validating the amplifying effect!

      Yes here for you acknowledging your privileges though ugh the sexist abuse sounds awful. 😦 I wish you didn’t have to cope with that at all though it sounds like the ways you are coping are super effective. I’m glad you have solidarity with your friend too.

      Yes, I will be gone soon! While I’ve enjoyed the area and I know that racism occurs in many places and spaces, I’m excited for the transition.

  2. Feeling foreign, being foreign, has always felt natural to me. I think the confidence that that’s an asset has always overridden the effect of anyone’s reaction to me. I also think there’s a danger in over using a single lense. It’s very easy to get lost in one’s own mind when one does that.

    • Glad you have confidence! I’m not sure if I’m understanding what you’re saying exactly, though I don’t think it’s the responsibility of the oppressed or discriminated against person to reappraise their perspective – it should be on the person doing the oppression or discrimination to stop doing that.

  3. Racism is a topic that I don’t really yet know how to work through. As an Asian American woman i’ve experienced racist encounters that left me feeling afraid and tense in public spaces. That feeling of disempowerment was something that shared with my therapist last year but it was so difficult to tell them because I was ashamed, and honestly still an uncomfortable, telling other people about it. That feeling of shame wasn’t something I realized was shame until my therapist asked me a question that led me there.

    Even now, racism is a topic that is difficult for me to talk about and it’s even uncomfortable to write, “as an asian american woman” for reasons I can”t confidently verbalize. I suppose it’ll take more work and time to see how i heal and grow.

    • Thanks for sharing these vulnerable thoughts! Sending warmth and compassion in your journey to work through/process these feelings. It can be difficult though I’m glad it sounds like you’re aware that this may be an important topic to reflect on – especially because depending on your life circumstances, conversations about race and racism may not be normalized.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s