Tell Me Who You Are Racial Identity Post
I whole-heartedly agree with Winona and Priya's assumptions on race. The role of race works to single out and isolate others. It makes you think, "I don't belong" or "I don't fit in" which actively installs fear in people, as well as alienates them. As a POC, I have undoubtedly had my fair share of racial discrimination. The fear and anger that boils up from inside you when someone decides that you don't belong because you don't look the same as them is the absolute worst experiences ever. For the rest of the day, you just fear that maybe someone will take it a step further and resort to physical abuse rather than verbal abuse. And from that fear, you start fearing those who look the same as the one who discriminated you. This is what race does. It isolates and segregates humans from each other. It's a systematic hierarchy that our country was built on. America was even built on its dependence on slaves. Race is a mechanism that has worked to single those who look different out, and it's a system that has lasted centuries.
1.) In Justin's account on page 19, he talked a lot about code switching and the racial discrimination he experienced in high school. Justin was a great student growing up, but he noticed that whenever he was around his teacher, he spoke properly and acted like a straight A student, but when he was with his friends, he was wilder and would make Latin race jokes. I think what was so important for people to understand is that code-switching is not something that is done intentionally. Justin talked about how he didn't even realize he was doing it until later on in his life. Code-switching is born from internalized racism that POC hold themselves against. This feeling that your culture is less than and improper, therefore you cannot express it when needed comes from the stereotypes we hold inside of ourselves. Justin's discrimination that he experienced throughout high school is so outrageous, yet so common. Racial discrimination can happen anywhere. At your school, in your neighborhood, on the bus, even from your own soccer team. 2.) Queen Esther talked about the criticism that she receives as a Black country singer, many claiming that she was shying away from her Blackness, when she's only reclaiming it. What I really found interesting about Queen Esther's account was the amount of inventions/advancements that were possible because of Black Americans. Queen Esther is demonstrating with an insane amount of evidence that America is a nation that was built on the labor and suffering of Black Americans. Ranging from Jack Brandy, gynecology, our lightbulbs, these wouldn't be possible without Black people in America. One of the greatest problems of our nation is the inability to acknowledge the benefit of White Americans from the exploitations and contributions that Black Americans were forced to make. 3.) Vic talked a lot about Asian recognition as POC. She also talked about the diversity of Chinatown and its history. I think that addressing the lack of recognition of POC isolates Asians further. It separates them from other POC because of how many don't see Asians as POC but it isolates them from White people because Asians don't have white privilege. It's a concept that so many people don't acknowledge or address and its extremely harmful to the Asian community. I thought it was really interesting how Vic wondered if Beacon Hill was so gentrified because White people feel more "comfortable" with Asians because it really is something to wonder.
The annotations and factoids were really interesting because they added context and information that the reader might not have known. 1.) In Queen Esther's account, there was a little factoid that talked about how schools in Texas changed the history curriculum so that it wouldn't address slavery or the KK, as well as framing the Civil War as a debate over states' rights, all because White people are too uncomfortable. This privilege that you can just change something because it makes you uncomfortable is so baffling and enraging. This is a real issue that we dealt with, and that we're still dealing with, yet you're going to cover it up and sugarcoat it because it makes YOU uncomfortable??? It's so provoking that anyone has the audacity to do that. What White people need to understand is that they have privilege to change that just because it's uncomfortable, but POC like Black can't change the intense racism that they experience on a day to day basis, even though it makes them "uncomfortable". 2.) The other notation I really enjoyed was also on Queen Esther's account. The notation quoted Zora Neale Hurston: "I feel most colored when I am thrown against a sharp White background." This was a quote that resonated in me. You really don't feel your race until it's really thrown in your face. When you look around and all you see is White people, those who you genuinely have nothing in common with when it comes to racial social status, you feel so alone and different. It isn't until you're surrounded that you really feel alone.
I really like this book! It has great accounts that bring a new perspective on the topic of race and how it isolates us. Some people are amazingly well spoken (like Queen Esther!!) and some bring a personal tone that makes you feel like you're having a conversation with someone.