The Impact of Racism and General Discrimination on My Life

I am an individual within a diverse society. Since it is so diverse, there are some drawbacks within a given society. Some of these things are racism and general discrimination. As a person within a minority, I feel as if these two topics of focus are something that impacts me the most. Since we live in a predominately white society, the colored folk are the ones that are discriminated against the most. Even though it is primarily whites against the minority, the same occurs within minority groups too. For example, the Asians will make fun of the Blacks while the Blacks make fun of the Mexicans and then the Mexicans will make fun of the Asians.

The cycle of this hate will continue forever. Even though that may be true, there are ways to cope. The consequence of having such a large society is that there will be hate within even the tightest societies. I have seen this hate occur in front of me. Now you as the reader might ask; what kind of hate did you experience? Back in elementary school, there were not a lot of Asians at the school I was attending. I grew up protected within a household of “traditional” Asian culture and tradition. My parents were clueless on what happened in the American society around us. They thought Americans were nice people that welcomed everyone with no problems.

I grew up with a Vietnamese accent, even though I was born here in America. My Kindergarten teacher did not take much liking to this and the “punishment” would be applied. Since I did not use English as much, I did not understand some directions on the assignments she assigned. This resulted in me being put into an English Second Language (ESL) hour where I would learn English with a different teacher. This was a distant memory that came back up when I was reading How to Tame a Wild Tongue by Gloria Anzaldua. In it she discusses how her wild tongue would get her in sorts of trouble within the American school system. Her Spanish would cause her to get, “…three licks on the knuckles with a sharp ruler” (Anzaldua, 2013, p.34).

This raises an important question; why are we so disturbed by this? If America is a society that claims to accept all kinds of people, then why do they discriminate over something like that? Yes an accent does sound a tiny bit strange, but this is a very diverse society full of different kinds of people. I remember that I was told not to question anything that the teacher told me to do.

I was not aware that my accent was such a negative thing in the classroom. Does the way my pronunciation of certain words affect the way you teach? Oh of course it would, since the American way is better. I once decided to question the American Authority and was immediately sent to the Principals Office. I was told that the accent that I had meant that I would not be able to get into a good college and that I needed to get rid of it. I was placed in a mandatory program to “fix” my act. Anzaldua says this the best, Their purpose: to get rid of our accents” (Anzaldua, 2013, p.34). Our accents are something that makes this society unique. It adds a good amount of diversity to an already whitewashed culture.

What is the point of feeding the lie of a diverse society too the minority, when there is an ethnic cleansing happening? The answer would be, there is not point to all of this madness. There is not much that this whitewashing does to benefit a diverse society in a whole. It takes a lot of work and not to mention, causes other things to be created. A process fueled with anger will just create havoc and things of that nature. This situation does not sound any amount of fun to live in. The minority is being lied to and some of them are eating up the lies like candy. For example, my father is someone that became more American after working with Americans in a typical engineering job. He learned the culture, the food, the speech and how to live as an American while keeping his Vietnamese roots. When my cousin returned to the United States for his job, we had a conversation about the upcoming election.

My father wanted crazy Bush to win since he believed that he was apart of the Majority and no longer part of the Asian Minority. My cousin then explained to me that my father was being tricked into thinking that he is a true American. Even though he possesses legitimate citizenship, he is just another minority within the larger American majority. The feeling of being apart of the majority is powerful since this is something that has been fed to the mouths of the minority in order to ensure their success. Besides the super white society that we will be living in, there is discrimination and stereotyping that occur on a daily basis.

One good example taken from my life would be me knowing Kung Fu since I was Asian and since Jackie Chan was Asian, which meant every Asian person should know that martial art. If I could recall from my memory, there was no such thing as the term Asian when I was in elementary school. If you were Asian, then you would be considered Chinese by all of your peers. If I had a dollar for every time a kid called me Jackie Chan or Chinese, then I would have enough money to pay for this crazy tuition. I was extremely confused because I was not sure about why these white kids would just call me Jackie Chan all of the time. I was Vietnamese, not Chinese like Jackie.

There was no such thing as Vietnamese back then; the word Asian was not even used much. If you looked remotely oriental, then you were considered Chinese and that was the end of the argument. My father experienced something a tad bit worse in public. My dad took our family out to a Chinese restaurant for dinner one time. He happened to be in a white shirt and black pants, the same attire that the workers wear. As he was walking out of the restroom, there was a white family trying to get his attention. They thought he was a waiter at the restaurant and was offended when he did not respond to them like a proper waiter would. The manager was called and they were appalled, but not apologetic to my father in any way. I could hear the son of that family ask his mother why all Asian people look the same. The horrible part what that my father was called a “gook” by that man, I am glad that my family has not encountered that man ever since.

This society has created this mindset that whites are superior compared to the rest of the minorities. An essay by Brent Staples discusses an incident that happened to him when he was walking past just a normal person’s car. He states, “I could cross in front of a car stopped at a traffic light and elicit the thunk, thunk, thunk, thunk of the driver-” (Staples, 2013, p.395). He also talked about blacks being portrayed as a dangerous race that should be avoided. The blacks were feared and some were even killed due to the fear of the public eye. This is a coping mechanism that ensured that the white race would stay dominant in society.

Now, this kind of violence and fear tactic put against the black race helped the majority stay in power. This causes a drop in the minority population to start off with consequences. Staples says in the essay that his rage was contained and he took everything slowly. He did not give into the rage that was hate and managed to survive this tense time in the world (Staples, 2013). The fear tactic still seems to be working in society today. A real life example would be cops committing acts of unnecessary violence against black people for no apparent reason other than that they possess dark skin. This issue itself is something that effects society negatively since the majority is taking out the minority with violence.

This tactic of compassionately taking the hate is one of the best ways to solve a problem. There is no harm done and eventually, the people who are doing the damage will stop and the process of hate will eventually stop. This compassionate action wont just help with causing less casualties, but it also makes this quote super relevant to this essay. Martin Luther King wrote a letter from jail. In this letter, MLK quotes, “Oppressed people cannot remain oppressed forever” (King, 2013, p.213). This quote is super powerful since it is true to human beings. In history the oppressed have rebelled and taken down their oppressors eventually. Even if it takes an extremely long time, the desire for freedom will break through and produce a result.

This result is some much-deserved freedom from ones oppressors. The majority in this society are the oppressors, while the minority are the ones being oppressed by said majority. Some examples of escaping oppression would be slaves getting their freedom in the United States and Vietnam breaking free from the French Rule. Those examples are of people who were ruled over by a larger group of similar thinking people, but the minority wanted the freedom from their oppressors. Human beings are very desire oriented and get what they want; in this case it is freedom. King talks about black citizens in America fighting the discrimination with peace. Since the whites refuse to accept King states, “…. if they refuse to support our non-violent efforts, millions of Negroes will, out of frustration and despair seek solace and security in black- nationalist ideologies-” (King, 2013, p.213). Human beings will seek out what they desire and eventually get it some how.

I am not sure how many times I have to state that since it is apart of human nature to do so. The problem is that people do not think that the oppressed will get what they want eventually. As a person that lives within a very diverse society, we must accept the diverseness. The amount of hate I have seen is something that cannot be fully prevented by anyone. Over the years, I have learned to cope with the fact that hate is very real. My coping method is taken from the Buddha himself, ignore and it will go away eventually. The Buddha taught his disciples that presents that are not accepted are returned to the sender.

What does this mean exactly? It means that if someone is doing something to you such as making fun of you or discriminating then just ignore that “present” that they are presenting to you. The present will then return to them, which means that they are just discriminating themselves and not getting the satisfaction from you. My father had a variation of this coping strategy but instead he said that everyone is equal. This is because if we get cut, then we bleed and if we get old we then die. Human discriminate for the pure satisfaction that they are better than another person. The only issue is that we are all human and we all die someday. Instead of spreading hate, we should go out into the world and try to make a difference for the good. Even though the hate and horrible things that people do cannot be prevented one hundred percent, we have to live by a small motto. For every bad thing that happens, two good things must be there to make up for it.

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