Yesterday, an acquaintance on Facebook made me feel really bad – let’s call him Kevin. I guess he was making the rounds and messaging everyone on his friends list. I’ve since deleted his messages and unfriended, so I’ll paraphrase a little.
Kevin was extremely upset that I didn’t post anything in support of Black Lives Matter on Facebook, which by the way wasn’t even true – I shared this video from Griffin Matthews on my blog and Facebook. After I mentioned my public support of Griffin, he then moved on to interrogate me on why I wasn’t attending and local demonstrations and protests.
I then tried to explain that life is not easy at the moment between the COVID-19 pandemic and taking care of my 18 month old son. From what I’ve seen and heard, some of the protests in the Boston area have gotten violent. I just can’t risk getting injured because my wife and baby depend on me and my paycheck.
Kevin then twisted my words, and made the following accusations.
- He accused me of being an “entitled white supremacist”.
- He accused me of “valuing my job over basic human rights”.
- He told me my son should feel ashamed that I am his father.
At that point, I blocked him because I couldn’t handle it anymore. I spent the rest of the day reflecting on whether my choice to not attend protests is inherently racist. Many of my best friends are black, and I’ve always supported black artists during my time working in New York City. Like everyone else, I obviously have my biases, but I also consistently question myself and work to keep my biases in check. It hurts to think that I could be racist.
I’m not sure what else I want to share in this post, but here are a few things that are on my mind right now.
- Despite what people like Ben Shapiro say (I like some of his views), racism against blacks does exist in the USA. People on the other side like to hide behind stats without considering that statistics are subject to bias as well. I’ve personally witnessed white-on-black racism firsthand both in school and my professional life. Like Griffin mentioned in his video, Broadway is racist. I value the black community and I hope these protests lead to change.
- I think “Black Lives Matter” has turned into a marketing slogan over the past few years. It’s vague, and depending on who you ask, “Black Lives Matter” may have different meanings. For example, Kevin uses “Black Lives Matter” to blanketly accuse people like me of being white supremacists. Conversely, and perhaps ironically, many of my black friends have a much more conservative of what “Black Lives Matter” means. I think the politicization of racially-fueled terms like “Black Lives Matter” is extremely dangerous.
- The global support for Black Lives Matter is undoubtedly inspiring – literally everyone is talking about it. As someone from Hong Kong, I have to wonder where our campaign went wrong. No matter how hard I try, it seems like no one wants to talk about the police brutality and government atrocities going on in Hong Kong right now. The people I see preaching “Black Lives Matter” on Facebook, are the same people I tried to talk to as I watched my homeland get torn apart by the Chinese government. Some of them said they would do more research, while others just assured me “it would get better” and moved on. Strangely enough, these are the same people who are now saying that “not being educated about black history” and “being passive” is racist. So, what do these people really stand for?
- After some reflection, I have come to the conclusion that Kevin is stressed, bored, and angry – and that I am not racist white supremacist. I think many of us feel bad right now. It’s a confusing time with the global COVID-19 and economic situation. Some people may not be able to handle the pent up emotions in a good way. I hope Kevin finds peace.
- I will think further about how I can help the black community without attending protests and demonstrations. I hope no one twists my words into “thinking is a passive action so you are racist”.
Lots of questions. I don’t have answers. I don’t know who has answers.