We have a Ghanian international student and I asked him what he thought about African Americans. He said that they were not African. So at that point, I decided that there is no problem with calling a black person, Black American. But then, what do we call Asian Americans who are several generations away from the motherland?
I was told that in Australia, everyone is Australian, and that there is no race or ethnic identity attached to it. This person said this with pride and positive inclusion, so I think their intentions are good. However, color-blindness can make one blind to racial bias. I realized I couldn’t continue a conversation with this person about this topic without blowing their minds, and I’m not ready for that responsibility.
When the Ferguson incident erupted, I arrived a little later to work because I was reading Michael Brown’s companion’s eye-witness story. I was really upset at what he reported, and was eager to find other reports. It was not out of doubt in the story that I wanted to find more, but moreso what other information has been mixed up to confuse people because it happens, as we all know.
Perhaps in an attempt to help calm me down with some sort of answer, I was told that in moments of shock, facts in a story can get lost.
My heart inside just lost it. The synapses in my brain fizzled a bit as it short-circuited, and reset itself to judgment on this person. What do I do from here, once I’ve made that judgment? How will I treat this person?
A vision of the Little Mermaid came to me. I became Ursula, and sang, “You poor unfortunate soul!”
After my moment of drama, I took a step back to understand the situation: someone who is not American, not familiar with racial politics in America, most likely not interested in it.
And then I became Elsa. “Let it go! Let it gooo!”