#parentInnaebaby: the ninth month

I had planned to write about how juggling work and caring for a young baby were wreaking havoc on my mental capacity. I had planned to write about the wonder of watching a helpless infant become a more plucky, mobile baby.

And now all I can think to write about is the world that baby #ESLee will grow up in if we don’t take a stand.

By ‘we,’ I really mean me.

Throughout today I kept seeing names pop up on social media:

George Floyd.

Christian Cooper.

Amidst the busyness of work and the whining screams of my 9-month-old, I pushed the names aside and told myself I’d read up on what happened later.

Later came, right before dinner.

I lost my appetite.

Breonna Taylor.

Kenneth Walker.

Ahmaud Arbery.

I recently finished Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, and as beautiful and poignant as it was, it took me awhile to finish. I felt forced to put it down and step away frequently. The pain – felt even as a reader who didn’t carry this history in my ancestry – was overwhelming.

But I can’t put this real book down.

There are days when I’ve thought about the benefits my race gives me, as I naively assume the model minority stereotype can provide a hall pass. Until this global pandemic, I figured we were “lucky.” Even within seemingly harmless stereotypes like Asians’ skill at math lie oppression and the power of someone else to judge and dictate who we are. Now, when you read and hear of the hate crimes toward Asians and Asian-Americans in the U.S., there is no such thing as luck. We are not safe; no minority is.

What does this mean for my daughter? I feel a responsibility now that I haven’t felt before. As cliche as it may sound, everything I consider and reflect upon is now viewed through the lens of being a mother. This can not be her future. I don’t want to look her in the eye in 20 years and say, “I did nothing.”

So, where to begin?

This is a broken world, and I am a part of it. As a character in Homegoing says,

“…Sometimes you cannot see that the evil in the world began as the evil in your home.”

I am not calling myself the source of evil. But to work towards an end means I must acknowledge ways I am contributing to that evil. Right now, that looks like complicity, silence, and/or ignorance.

Tomorrow? Instead of pointing the finger at others, I hope to turn the mirror on myself. More than berating others, I hope my words will bring wisdom and orient towards love. I will feel, think, speak and act in response to the wrong and in pursuit of what is right.

Daughter, I hope you’ll be proud.

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Being Silenced: Where Change Can Begin

I can’t tell you how many articles I’ve read, statements posted, comment threads and tweets resonating with anger and injustice. This has been a charged, painful, frantic few weeks, and while one would hope it is to come to an end, this is the beginning.

Eric Garner March

Funny. There is hope in that statement, isn’t there? We are entering another civil rights era, a time where men and women march to ensure equality. This time, people of all races and backgrounds will stand shoulder-to-shoulder, repeating the cry. Black Lives Matter.

 

I have wrestled with blogging about these current events because I did not want to simply fume on the internet until I had all the facts. Yet it wasn’t until I realized how uncurrent these events were that I began to type.

#CrimingWhileWhite has been a shameful testimony of how many times one’s appearance has provided a second chance. Granted, these are anecdotes. Here, however, are the numbers. In this ProPublica article, there is proof of the racial disparity when it comes to bullets fired and lives stolen in an instance. Just a few years ago, the federal data revealed that “blacks, age 15 to 19, were killed at a rate of 31.17 per million, while just 1.47 per million white males in that age range died at the hands of police.” Essentially, the authors of the article estimate that young black men face a 21 times greater risk of being shot by an officer than a white male of the same age.

Image courtesy of ProPublica

And this is data that isn’t even fully complete.

 

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All this being said, this post isn’t just a rant about what is wrong.

 

We must recognize we have created an enemy too. Who is “the other side?” Do we condemn all uniformed men and women? I know many who have taken the oath who grasp the dignity of life and the delicacy of justice. There is no doubt that a medical examiner ruled Garner’s death a homicide, and the man last seen with his arms around the black man’s neck is not facing any repercussion. The days to come though, may be punishment enough. What we need to seek is a solution, not revenge.

 

A former mentor of mine urges us all to “lean in and listen” in his editorial in the Huffington Post. Call me old-fashioned, but respect garners further respect. I have no right to command that you silence your voices now. I just ask you to be aware of the potential prejudices spilling out of our hearts as we speak. At times, a listening ear will heal more powerfully than a spoken word, and a conversation more effective than a lecture.

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Chaz Howard also wrote about the incongruity of Philadelphia’s protestors against the backdrop of the Christmas tree lighting at City Hall Wednesday night.

“A huge tree stood over all of us. Today shiny ornaments and lights hang on it. Not very long ago a black man would have hung on it.”

 

 

About 2000 years ago, a Middle Eastern man hung on it too. And He did have the right to say this:

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”

All lives should matter. Let us strive to make them so.