Episode 4 – To Speak Against Systematic Racism

-As promised, this is a rough transcript of my podcast episode. I will be following along this as my script, minor changes may occur as I speak and stumble over words. If you would prefer to listen, please subscribe on Spotify, or iTunes! –

** As mentioned in my previous post, this is released prior to the release of the podcast episode. Due to health concerns, I was unable to record, but I feel that this message is an important one to post about in its relevancy to current world events. Sorry for the inconvenience, the podcast episode should hopefully be up by June 12th, in conjunction to a new episode for next week! **

Hello everyone,

Wow, what a journey the past couple of weeks have been. The dangers of coronavirus have not yet ceased, and yet the world is now abuzz with the news of George Floyd’s unjust murder, and the racism that pollutes the system. Racism isn’t a new concept, and systematic racism has been a huge issue – it wasn’t just brought on by the death of Trayvon Martin years ago, but it’s been deeply interwoven into the legal, socioeconomic, and political system. I hope with everything going on, that all of you are staying safe, and giving yourselves time to process, learn, and reflect.

I want to preface this episode with the fact that this podcast was meant to uplift the Asian and Asian-X communities in light of the racism we are facing from COVID-19. However, I want to encourage us to also branch out into understanding and learning about the struggles of other minority groups. Uplifting yourself doesn’t mean you need to degrade anyone else. Uplifting others to rise with you is the best way you can uplift yourself. Jesus as our example – in literally rising from His grave, He uplifts us and helps us to follow Him, He didn’t leave us to live for sin and death. As an Asian American, I can really only speak on the systematic racism I’ve observed and researched and learned about within the United States, but I do know that systematic racism is not reserved only for America. It may look different in other nations, and perhaps it’s other minority groups being targeted. Wherever you live in the world, I encourage you to do your research on the minority groups within your community – are there cases of police brutality against them? Or perhaps social nuances that bar them from success? Reach out to them and offer your love and support.

I think many of us Asian-X individuals can understand the detrimental systematic racism against us: Asians are smart, great at math, docile, non-confrontational, etc. The list goes on. I can personally list out multiple times where I was taken advantage of due to these stereotypes regarding Asians, and even moreso how it has affected the communal system. I remember a time vividly in elementary school, we had a math test/competition, and we were separated into groups. In my group, I was somehow the only Asian. When it came time to see who had won in my group, the teacher excitedly and encouragingly announced 3rd and 2nd place. When it came to me, who had scored the highest, she was so lackluster, and I remember the exact words: “And of course, 1st place goes to Sharon.” She didn’t have to point out the stereotype that I am Asian, and should be good at math. The other students caught her drift, and I remember hearing whispers of how it wasn’t fair that I was in that group. Never mind the fact that I got my butt whooped as a little five year old when I couldn’t remember my multiplication tables. Never mind the fact that despite not having a lot of money, my mom bought many workbooks for my sister and I to do so that we could do well in school. Never mind that I worked hard to understand mathematics, and strive for good grades. I was simply Asian, and that was the reason for my success.

But now, let’s take a look on the opposite end of the spectrum – our Black brothers and sisters are stereotyped to be drug addicts, murderers, thieves, low-lives, violent, angry, good at basketball, and the list goes on. But why are these stereotypes even existent? This perspective on Black people seem very distinctive of American culture, and it can honestly be attributed to slave culture. As I mentioned in my blog post regarding George Floyd, slave owners were very messed up in how they tried to justify their actions of treating Africans as less than. They used their slight differences in anatomical structure to draft up offensive diagrams that diminished Africans as human beings. And even as slavery ended, these sentiments were still very deeply rooted within the system. How else do you explain the 3/5 Compromise not being abolished the moment slavery was in the aftermath of the Civil War? Or the fact that Black Americans, (okay, let’s say Black men since White women were also not privy to voting) were still not seen as humanly capable of voting until way after the Civil War? Or how Black Americans were wrongfully convicted of crimes to keep their labour free for White plantation owners? And now let’s talk about the segregation that happened: who do you think would live in the richer neighborhoods? The Whites who were able to own plantations? Or the Blacks who lived by serving the White plantation owners who suddenly found themselves having to figure out a living situation? The employers were still White people, and do you think they allowed Blacks a good living wage? Good work circumstances? How does that build up frustration? When you have no money, you aren’t just selling your labor, you sell your dignity. And that pain comes back into the household. It comes back in the form of substance abuse. It comes back into violence. I’m not saying that there’s no substantial numbers to go off of in terms of stereotypes – just like how as much as I’d like to deny it, I am kind of good at math, and I’m pretty non-confrontational, and many of my other Asian and Asian-X friends are similar. However, these things are not innate. They’re socially constructed, and forced upon us. This is systematic racism, because even as society is changing, and people are learning to be more accepting, there are still instances where the stereotypes that have been passed down for generations come back to bite us. An innocent Black man can be perceived as a threat simply because of the stereotypes that are related to his skin color.

Where do we begin to change the system? How do we begin to undo centuries of damage? We can’t change the fact that Africans were brought over and treated as less than human, degraded, and then cast aside as second class citizens. We can’t change the fact that false accusations and convictions against Black people have greatly, negatively impacted their reputation. We can’t change the poverty that existed in the original Black communities, and how the repercussions of that is still evident today. Many of the original segregated Black communities are still present, and even with gentrification, many of these communities are still very run down, because the money that has been circulating within these communities never could have amounted to the money circulating in rich, White neighborhoods. Of course, that’s not to say that there haven’t been people who rose above their situations and became very successful. I’m not just talking about the stereotypical rappers and basketball players, I’m talking about people working in white collar jobs, who quote on quote “made it” in the world. But that’s not enough. Obama was a president, and yet still systematic racism puts him as the exception, rather than the norm. Until the day that the successes of our Black brothers and sisters can be celebrated in their own rite, rather than worshiped as an exception to the rule, we can’t have equality between Blacks and Whites. I know that this post is pretty polarized in terms of skin colour, but Blacks have always been the forefront of this fight in America of minorities versus the majority. Let us support our Black brothers and sisters, and uplift them, because their voices need to be heard, and there has to be a way for this hurting to end.

I want to end this episode with this: “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind.  Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” – Philippians 2:1-4. I can’t say that I condone the violence and burning and mistreatment of police officers during these protests. However, I can understand and sympathize with the anger, anguish, and fear that must be cutting so deeply into the Black community. Historically, it’s always been protests and violence that finally pushed the government to back off a little and listen to the Black community, and it seems that this might not be much different. It’s an unfortunate cycle of hurting the Black community, and the Black community fighting back to be heard, but at the cost of reinforcing some of the stereotypes against them. But God is greater than this, and He can comfort the pain, He can understand the mockery and humiliation, because He was also in great pain and treated as less than. God can move us to love and accept, and to care for others, because that is His character, and we were made in His image. I hope that my listeners can also lift up a prayer for the #blacklivesmatter movement, that they act with discernment and wisdom; lift up a prayer for the protesters – in thankfulness for their solidarity and heart for the community; lift up a prayer for protection from both the pandemic and police brutality; lift up a prayer for the officers who are innocently being accused and battered and mocked by mobs of angry protesters, that God will protect their hearts and give them a glimpse of the pain inflicted upon the Black community; lift up a prayer for the officers whose hearts are hardened with racism, that their harts will soften and they will see that God’s people are meant to be loved, not beaten or murdered; and lift up a prayer for the government to respond with responsibility and love.

I know that not all my listeners may be Christian, but even if you aren’t a Christian, I hope that you can relate to the heartbreaking truth that not everyone is being treated equally, and that there is such a broken system. That the relationships between minority groups, majority groups, police, protesters, government, citizens, etc. are so, so damaged. And in this destitution of rage and explosive emotions, there is so much that needs healing. I hope that this can spark in you a curiosity – what can heal this, but love? And I hope that this sparks in you the motivation to share love with your community and the people around you.

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