When I first moved to where I now live I was invited to an event, called Empty Bowls and put on by the local rotary. It is a fundraiser to help end hunger. I went, with my husband and daughter. My daughter is Chinese. And when I walked through the door, I was shocked to see they were holding something called a Chinese Auction. I was further shocked to learn that they had been warned that many regarded the name, Chinese Auction, for what is basically a silent auction, as an outdated and racist term. It did actually use the term Chinese Auction, and it was held at the local high school which, apparently, also sanctioned the use of the racist term.
I lost my shit, in no uncertain terms, in a loud and angry way. And NO ONE THERE CARED. #MyRotaryMoment .
The woman in charge, told me that she had researched the term, and it is used to mean a silent auction is unusual, inscrutable, and mysterious, like Chinese people, and, that I should allow my then 7 year old daughter to enjoy being those things. “Let her be mysterious,” she said. “I know I’d like to be mysterious.”
And here we have a world in which our (former, thankfully) President calls a virus the “Kung Flu,” or “Chinese virus,” and some crazy white boy goes and shoots Asian women because he can’t get laid, and he, apparently, felt he deserved to get laid, and probably by “mysterious” Asian women.
In November, after Biden won, I went to get Chinese food, as did a white guy in a truck. We both got our food, and went out to our cars at the same time. He noticed my Black Lives Matter window cling, and started yelling at me that all lives matter. I said to him, “It doesn’t mean all lives don’t matter. Do you want to stop and talk about it?” He just kept screaming “ALL LIVES MATTER!!!” and got in his truck and drove off. It was particularly sad for me because, Biden having just been announced the true winner, I was feeling hopeful for the first time in four years, and I thought we might celebrate by eating some Chinese food. A white guy had to, and this is important, he HAD TO scream at me about my car sticker and make me be wrong, I had to be wrong. He could not accept that a white woman had that sticker on her car. He literally could NOT contain himself, and he also could not give me five minutes to talk about it. I wasn’t hurt; he didn’t call the cops on my like he might’ve had I been Black. And, he also refused to humanize me, to talk to me like a fellow traveler on this earth. He just screamed and screamed, and left the scene.
If Republicans think that allowing trans-gender kids to play sports or pee while in school is wrong, if they think that Black Lives advocates are thugs, if they think the people storming the Capital are patriots, if they think women who want equality and control over their own bodies are ugly hags who just are upset because they can’t get a boyfriend, if they think the election was stolen, if they think masks limit their freedom, if they think protecting the environment is a gimmick, if they think Asian people are mysterious, and calling a deadly virus a Chinese virus is acceptable, then there will be more lives lost, more bloodshed, more fucked-up people willing to kill to force the world into their mold.
I have nothing. I have no words of comfort or wisdom to offer about this terrible event in Georgia. I have only my sadness, worry, and fear for my child and my HBCU students and these two small incidents in my very white life to highlight how people from one race feel that they can dictate to another what is okay. It’s not okay, and white people don’t get to decide. #StopAsianHate . #BlackLIvesMatter . By the way, we’re still waiting on an apology from the Rotary. #MyRotaryMoment .