A short time back, I subscribed to Grace Ji-Sun Kim’s blog – Grace Ji-Sun Kim ~ Loving Life.
In today’s post (24 April 2013), Grace reflects on race and privilege and racism.
She begins with an experience on a plane trip with her daughter. A brief encounter while leaving the plane brought the reminder that:
… an Asian is always already viewed as a foreigner no matter how long they have been living in this country. Even fourth or fifth generation Asians are viewed as the “perpetual foreigner.” Asian Americans have been depicted as “perpetual foreigners,” “unassimilatable,” and other stereotypes that reveal historic and persistent racism experienced by this racial/ethnic group. For example, almost every Asian in America has been afflicted with the perpetual foreigner syndrome. Many have been asked, “Where are you really from?” This loaded question, which I shall call the “really-question,” differs from the usual one, “Where are you from?” The really question figuratively and literally ejects the Asian American respondent to Asia, because the assumption behind the question, even if the questioner is oblivious to it, is that Asian Americans cannot be “real” Americans.
From the experience on the airplane, Grace proceeds to explore being viewed as the “other” or a “perpetual foreigner.” She considers the social construction of “whiteness” and white superiority and white privilege. Race, as she notes, intersects with gender, sexuality, age, sexual orientation and more.
Her story and reflection remind me to remain ever vigilant about the role of privilege in my life. In so many ways, I am privileged.That brings me responsibility to challenge the systems and structures that create the privilege and give it to me. Sometimes I do not do that well. Sometimes I do. Always I must pay attention and try to do better.
Grace closes with a vision:
I envision a world for my daughter in which people of all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, and social classes can come together in harmony and love.
The reality of my privilege challenges me to work to overcome racism and other systems of domination and strive to create another world. The vision encourages me to do the same. Check out Grace’s post and see how it speaks to you.
See you along the Trail.