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I originally posted this diary late last night, but pulled it because I wanted as many people to read and see what I did last night. There are two items here that made my jaw drop, and in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting, they are the two most poignant things I have read and seen. After taking them in, I feel like very little else can be said. They are bold, harsh truths that can't be denied. The first is an article written by young Jeopardy champion Arthur Chu in 2013 in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting. Here presented is the whole text, much thanks to the Field Negro blog for finding it an posting it last night for everyone to see:

"I wrote the piece below in a late-night frenzy on July 13, 2013, after receiving a notification on my phone that George Zimmerman had been acquitted of the murder of Trayvon Martin. I had left a party early, brooding about why I felt so strongly about something that, ostensibly, had “nothing to do with me.”
I had originally kept this as a friends-only post on Facebook, because of the justifiable fear that writing angry tearful screeds about how mad you are at America might be harmful for my career.

As it was, the tweets that I sent out about how depressed I was after the Trayvon Martin shooting got dug up several months later by some National Enquirer intern looking for dirt on the recent Jeopardy! celebrity, and I got to see a blurb in the Enquirer asking, “Does Jeopardy champ Arthur Chu hate America?”

So for a while I was paranoid about ever letting anyone see this again. But then another late-night frenzy piece I wrote in response to the Isla Vista shootings took off, and I thought maybe sharing this wouldn’t be so bad an idea.
The one sticking point was, of course, that my D-list viral celebrity as a Jeopardy! champ and all that followed came a year after George Zimmerman’s acquittal and the whole issue of white guys shooting minorities dead and getting away with it was, as we say in the journalism business, “stale.”

But I remember a dark, cynical voice in my mind thinking, “Don’t worry. The issue may be stale now, but just give it a few months and it’ll be in the headlines again. Have faith. This is America.”

What do you know, I was right.
When my father first came to this country as a graduate student, there was an incident where he and a friend were walking home and were suddenly confronted in a parking lot by a group of apparently intoxicated students in a car, driving around them in circles, shouting threats and racist catcalls.

My father’s friend counseled him to ignore it, to wait for them to get their jollies and leave, that this is just the kind of thing that happens once in a while.
My father waited, and they didn’t leave, and then my father picked up a rock and said, “I’m counting to thirty and if they’re not gone by then this rock is going through their windshield.”

Luckily, they tired of the sport and peeled off around when my dad hit fifteen. It’s good for me that they did—had the rock gone through the windshield, had glass flown in a thousand bright shards across the asphalt, had the driver slumped over, bleeding, and the car doors swung open and his friends stormed out filled with anger, had police been called and charges been filed—well, I probably wouldn’t be here.

If by chance one of those students had been a Zimmerman, carrying a firearm for “self-defense” against “violent criminals” armed with rocks, I very definitely would not be here.

There was a moral to this story when my father told it to me, a moral that I hated more than any of the other morals that came attached to his other anecdotes.

It was a moral that explained many things. It explained, for instance, why he never went to parent-teacher association events, never integrated himself into “the community.” Why he consistently obeyed Rule #1, a rule that my friends’ white suburban parents had never considered—a rule I would not hear from others until I actually met people who’d grown up urban and poor when I got older—Never Talk to the Cops. (In the Bill of Rights it’s actually Rule #5.)
Why he urged me to choose a career specialization based on objective assessment of skills and achievements, one where success was quantifiable, one whose practitioners were organizationally indispensable. To take an “Asian” job like engineer, scientist, programmer. One where there was little room for subjectivity, where the personal impression of the interviewer counted less. To stay away most of all from fields where I would be judged purely based on how well people could relate to me, like direct sales, like middle management, like the performing arts.

To never, ever, ever put my livelihood in a position where I depended on white people liking me.

Because it was a lesson he learned the night that some random drunkards decided that terrorizing two pedestrians in a car, swerving toward them again and again, would be fun—would have no legal consequences because the cops wouldn’t care, would have no moral consequences because the victims didn’t matter.

A lesson he learned every time he was pulled over for a speeding ticket, or pulled aside by the store detective and asked to turn out his pockets, or quietly scoffed at and eyerolled at by a customer service rep for his accent.
That lesson was:

This Is Not Your Country.

You can live here. You can make friends. You can try to live by the law and be a decent citizen and even maybe make a lot of money.

But you will never, ever belong. You will never, ever be one of them. And you must never, ever trust them.

I resisted this lesson. I fought back. I worked for hours to give myself a generic Midwestern broadcaster’s accent—I became a voiceover artist because the way I have trained myself to speak is a “radio voice.” I fell in love with the English language, I developed a vocabulary of nearly a hundred thousand English words, I devoured American culture both high and low, Mark Twain and Eugene O'Neill and Flannery O'Connor and Jerry Seinfeld and Tupac and Public Enemy and the Beach Boys and Buddy Holly and Madonna and Ella Fitzgerald and Weird Al and Bill Hicks and George Carlin and Martin Scorsese and John Waters and John Philip Sousa and Aaron Copland and George Lucas and Beverly Cleary and Matt Groening and on and on and on, all of it, everything I could find, every TV show, every radio station, every book in the library.

History, literature, politics. Fast food and junk food and pop culture trivia and song lyrics and idiomatic colloquialisms of the South, the Northeast, the Midwest. I binged on America, I stuffed myself so full of America I was bursting at the seams with America.

I swallowed it all. As much as I could. I swallowed things that tasted foul and struggled to keep them down, but I did the best I could, to prove I could, to prove that I could swallow anything. I stomached the Chinese Exclusion Acts and the Riots of 1871. The gold miners and the borax miners and the railroad workers. I held my nose and I ate Jack London and the Yellow Peril and the coming war with China. I swallowed H.S. Tsien's deportation and Cold War paranoia and Joe McCarthy and the Yellow Peril and the coming war with China.

I choked down Wen Ho Lee’s arrest and Vincent Chin’s murder and Iris Chang’s suicide and Andrew Breitbart and the Yellow Peril and the coming war with China.

My friends were white. The girls I dated were white. I laughed at the racist jokes and invoked hipster irony to make them myself. I steeled my muscles and kept inside all the shit I’d swallowed, told me it was another time, another place, just another one of my dad’s stupid stories. I took history instead of CS or EE in college. To hell with my dad’s misgivings, I set out to be an actor, a performer, to live or die by whether I could get the audience to like me.

Because none of that was real. That was all in another world.

The historical atrocities and the daily microaggressions. Kids who screamed “Chinese Pig!” and adults who asked in an exasperated tone “I mean where are you from originally?” John McCain and the gooks he could never forgive. Making it to callbacks three times in a row only to never be the “fit” they were looking for. Being complimented on my English. Being criticized on my English. The tingle of nerves bristling at standing next in line to a FOB with a thick accent and a bad haircut, the desire to scream “I’m not with him! We’re not related!”

Sum Ting Wong and Ho Lee Fuk. Dick jokes. Accent jokes. Chinese restaurant jokes. The mute Chinese nerd in the background of the movie. The Chinese lead character being played by a white guy in makeup.

Waking up every day knowing that all of it—the broadcaster accent, the memorized cultural references and song lyrics—isn’t fooling anybody. Your face gives you away. The way you overenunciate certain consonants. The foods that don’t make you retch and the foods that do. The sound of your parents’ voice on the phone.

The way it simply matters more when a pretty white girl goes missing than when an Asian man goes missing and is later found dead. The way academics still publish papers on whether you possess the necessary mental apparatus to function in a civil democracy.

The way a grad student is willing to hurl a rock through a car windshield—and throw away his entire future with it—because he knows in that moment that he has no other options, that if he is found run over and dead the next morning the cops won’t really care.

The way a terrified black teenager might lunge at a racist vigilante because he knows there’s no good way out of this and it’s better to die fighting than to be shot in the back.

The way a crowd of people who have had their total and utter helplessness before the law rubbed into their face by the media over and over again might pick up rocks, sticks, knives and break anything they can, because while mindless vengeance is not justice—is far inferior to justice—it is still more than nothing, which, when they try to stand up and peacefully demand justice, is what they always receive.

The way a grim-faced storeowner might pick up an assault rifle and begin firing into that selfsame aggrieved, desperate crowd because he knows no one is coming, no one will help, no justice will be served—the men whose blood the crowd wants are safely ensconced in police protection in the suburbs miles away and they, like the Jewish bailiffs in feudal Russia in the time of the pogroms, will be left to soak up the rage of the masses. They fire round after round in “self-defense” without thought of justice because for them justice does not exist.

They live in a world different from your world, gentle white reader. The one you take for granted, where you can pick up the phone and someone on the other end will listen, a cop or a lawyer or a congressman. They live in Trayvon Martin’s world, in my father’s world, in the world that under all the assimilation and the “model minority” bullshit I live in, despite all my best efforts, despite all my father’s warnings.

But even that is a facile evasion, isn’t it? Calling it two worlds. It’s really only one world, only one country, only one United States of America. There’s one place, one culture, one system.

We all live here. We all make friends here, eat the food, watch the movies, maybe even make money.

It’s just some people belong here, and others don’t.

I can pretend to belong here better than Trayvon was ever given the chance to. The white racist looks at me and sees a stolen job or the slow decline of national prominence, but he doesn’t see a rapist, a thug, a barbarian at the gate. I fear being snubbed and sometimes spat on but rarely shot. And that is a very important difference.

But it is still not my country. However hard I try, however well they treat me, however much we all smile at each other and however much people praise the "model minority" I am, I know it is not.

Because it’s also the country whose government had to be pressured into taking an interest in the murder of a young man simply because of the color of his skin. A country that produced a jury that let that murderer walk free. And a country whose most self-proclaimedly patriotic citizens were whooping and hooting and setting off fireworks the night that man went free, right in the midst of the shock and grief and sorrow of those still mourning.

And I am done making excuses for this country, to say that “America” isn’t like that despite what the American government is like, despite what American history is like, despite what even now an overwhelming number of the American people are openly and proudly like. I am dead tired of pretending that countless examples are all exceptions, that to see a pattern where a pattern clearly exists is to be a “reverse racist” and “paranoid” and all the things I have accused my father of being.

I am sick and tired of reassuring myself that if their smiling faces can rejoice at the murderer’s freedom simply because the victim didn’t belong here, that I have any hope of belonging here either.

I am not an American. This is not my country. I have no country other than a China I barely know and do not love. Trayvon had no country other than the vanished West African kingdoms of centuries ago, replaced by post-colonial polities that know nothing of and care nothing for their long-lost sons and daughters of the Middle Passage.

It is not a good feeling, to be homeless. I wish it were not so. I continue to live here, work here, pay the taxes and obey the law. I even intend to spend my life here fighting to the end of my days in whatever small way I can to make this benighted country less of a failure at living up to its ideals. I like the food, I love the music, and in some broken, painful, tragic way I even love America itself, the way a victim of abuse might be unwilling to surrender his love for his abuser because to do so would be to surrender the last of his illusion of dignity and agency.

But of this, no more illusions. I am sorry, father. You were right.
This is not my country.

It never was."

I could hardly catch my breath after that, then I ran across Melissa Harris-Perry's blistering, scalding take on the Michael Brown shooting and it's context. You have to watch for yourself, it's simply devastating. Link is to Huffington Post:

There is nothing more that needs to be said. Two somber, accurate and sobering reflections on a national shame. All support to the people of Ferguson.

To anyone who comes across this diary, please share the article and video with someone. Make your own diary, post a link on Twitter, share it on Facebook. Visit the Field Negro blog and share his original post, he does great work almost daily. Support Melissa's show. These two points of view deserve to be heard.

It seems that overnight Ferguson has again become a war zone. Tear gas has been fired, though CNN, like dutiful state media, reported that it was "just smoke bombs." A shooting has taken place and someone is in critical condition.

Read and watch what I shared in this diary above. There is a point when a terrorized minority is justified in rising up and saying ENOUGH!!!

Originally posted to Electryon on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 06:36 AM PDT.


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Comment Preferences

  •  My Election Day 2012 jam: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eviemarie, limpidglass

    I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

    by CFAmick on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 08:41:21 PM PDT

  •  More Tragically, It's Not Whites' Country Either. (9+ / 0-)

    --Not if their senator doesn't need to know their name, it isn't. Not if markets need them to be careful what they say about their portfolio, it isn't.

    All this fear and hatred over who is unwelcome to become an occupant in local communities has been meticulously fomented for most of a lifetime by those who really did take whites' country from them. White bluecollars and even professionals and the very comfortable, have been tirelessly handing over their country to those who told them it was those different looking occupants that were taking it.

    So yeah, whites, you may think you're showing some people it's not their country. But it's not yours either; all that's really yours is your little club, and your club owes rent and has to beg for work same as the outsiders do.

    If you'd realize this and make common cause, together you could get your country back.

    But you can't do that if keeping your little club as it is is more important than getting your country back.

    Thanks for this diary and for sharing that powerful essay. I will definitely share links.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Aug 16, 2014 at 09:03:38 PM PDT

  •  Let's take our country back (5+ / 0-)

    It's time to read up on Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

    We shall overcome.

    Ferguson is a wake up call to drop the pretense of equality for all.
    Look in the mirror America and see the ugly truth.
    We are a racist nation but that can change.

    History is giving us our moment of transformation.

    There can be no transforming of darkness into light and of apathy into movement without emotion.  -Carl Jung

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 07:40:05 AM PDT

  •  Thank you... (7+ / 0-)

    and I hear you.  I can't tell you how many times I have heard, you speak such good English. Well yes I do, it's the only language I speak.  Or, you don't have an accent!  What kind of an accent am I supposed to have since English is my native language? Oh and I told my parents no I don't want to go to Chinese school to learn Chinese after school are they crazy?  Then there was the white guy I had a crush on in 7th grade and the moment he told me that he would go out with me but I wasn't blonde. I didn't even realize it then what a bloody bigoted statement that was in the innocence of my youth in Hawaii where being Asian didn't stick out like a sore thumb and I felt just like everyone else.  I though hey, he just likes blondes.

    Fast forward to living in NYC where being Asian is worn on your face night and day. And you get it from both sides. There are the Asians who are in the 1st or 2nd generation who look at me with my Asian face that doesn't speak Chinese and look down on me as someone stuck up or I don't know what. Where you have smart kids who get into Stuyvesant which is about 75% or more Asian and you have the counselor be surprised you don't speak Chinese or you don't live in Chinatown in Queens or in NYC but on the Upper West Side and no my kids didn't go to a cram school to study to get into the school like Asians do.  They are just smart okay?

    Or my husband going to an interview in a big law firm. He is the only guy in the waiting room.  Our last name can be mistaken for Italian even if it is Japanese.  The partner came out and asked the secretary where he was since he didn't see Mr ___.  The secretary was so embarrassed and said oh he is right there. The guy admitted he was looking for a Italian guy and there was this short Japanese guy instead.

    It's an uncomfortable place to be. In a country where you are challenged constantly to say you are American from the get go and the default assumption is "other" but you also aren't Asian enough to be Asian to the Asian community. I  really am not from China, well, yeah I guess in a way but that was 4 generations ago. Microagressions are part of the day and being judged by your appearance constant. And yet you want to scream this is my country too.

    I cry for this non post racial society where the racism can run so deep sometimes the racist doesn't realize it. At least I am the "good minority" and our default is not thug. But I hurt for those who have that as their stereotype...for those Black Americans who have to face that every day.  I cry for the mothers and fathers who worry about their children and if they will grow into adulthood and not get stopped like Trayvon or Michael and shot dead.

    Why yes there is a war on women and minorities.

    by karma5230 on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 08:31:49 AM PDT

  •  I'm ashamed of our country... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    karma5230, tuesdayschilde, ladycat713

    I keeping thinking "it's not supposed to be like this", but our history speaks for itself. My one consolation (and I probably won't live to see it) is that minorities will eventually save this country. That's if the braindead, white, peckerwoods of this world don't destroy it first.

    Scratch the surface of someone claiming that religion is needed to legitimize government, and odds are underneath you'll find a petty dictator who wants to order people around "Because God says so!"

    by rreabold on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 09:05:05 AM PDT

  •  The essay published by Arthur Chu and the brief (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chitown Kev

    news cast by Melissa Harris-Perry are both mind boggling. The power contained in both is gorgeous and daunting. Yes, yes, I know, there will be countless "Americans" who will glance at them and mouth platitudes e.g. "They don't know how lucky they are to live here", "Why don't they go back where they came from if they don't like it", "How could anyone be so ungrateful"...etc, ad nauseam. These inanities are the result of ignorance and simple-mindedness. I think we've moved past the fact that racism is as rampant in America as it ever has been - now we are faced with the colossal task of doing something about it. I'm all for educating the ignorant, but when the challenge is as huge as this one is, where to begin? My prediction, and I hate like hell to even write this, is that there will be more and more of a violent backlash because rather than abating, these horrific incidents - murderous cops cutting down innocent people (who just so happen to be a different color) seem to be on the increase. When we people grow up enough to realize that globally, people from everywhere are spilling over the borders into countries that are not their native lands. The everywheres are now going everywhere. And to be fair to the US of A there is every bit as much ethnic bias towards those who dare cross others' borders as there is here. That's the whole point. "The Grass is Greener on the Other Side of the Fence" is now endemic. All it takes is the perception that life is better on that elusive other side. Even if it's much worse, that does not figure in the desire of the refugee/immigrant/emigre who will cross that border upon pain of death. What is the answer? DEAL WITH IT, OF COURSE!! Make room for them. Change laws, grow more social workers, grow more food, build more shelters, ad infinitum. WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH HUMAN BEINGS WHO ARE IN THE POSITIONS OF POWER THAT CAN HELP IMMEASURABLY TO EFFECT THE VITALLY NEEDED CHANGES??!!

  •  Arthur Chu's poignant thoughts about (0+ / 0-)

    his sense of homelessness are both depressing and frustrating.

    It is not a good feeling, to be homeless. I wish it were not so. I continue to live here, work here, pay the taxes and obey the law
    On one hand, America has the potential to be such a force for good in this troubled world. But in reality, American is a fearful country, living in dread of the other, not knowing when the poor and the downtrodden will revolt, and armed to the teeth so as to protect white privilege and material wealth at all cost.

    "The future belongs to those who give the next generation reason for hope." -- Pierre Teilhard de Chardi

    by Frank In WA on Sun Aug 17, 2014 at 10:36:58 AM PDT

  •  The worst part, from your perspective, is (0+ / 0-)

    that it's not about you. The convenient victims of this mindless aggression are scape-goats, akin to the ram in the thicket that got "sacrificed" by Abraham after the voice of God told him not to carve up his son.

    I think there's a primary antagonism between males humans and the young whose genesis could not, until recently, be accurately acertained. What was always fairly certain was who the mother was, as well as that the arrival of the young signalled both deprivation of consort and new obligations for the male. Thus, from the perspective of the male, off-spring are a burden and arrive burdened by an obligation to prove themselves worthy of being sustained. Insinuating themselves into the male/female relationship and making demands makes the next generation persona non grata and tasked with making amends. For the young, there's a sense of being shut out and not really knowing why. It doesn't occur to them that just being born is an affront to the adults who aren't keen on change.

    Meanwhile, the instinctive jealousy of the male is barely understood even as it surfaces memories of having been similarly treated on a conditional basis -- i.e. having to prove one's usefulness to gain acceptance. It's easier, I suspect, to rationalize any lingering resentment away by defining the exclusive treatment as culturally determined. The "country" is not accepting; not the individual person. If there are conditions, they come from elsewhere because, of course, the father's acceptance is unconditional.

    In truth, the paternal attitude is abusive, in response to the arrival of the young, but also to compensate for the abuse experienced at the prior generation's hands. That's the thing about abuse -- it gets transmitted from generation to generation because, for one reason or another, it can't be avenged against the perpetrator. Most likely, the perpetrators don't even know they're taking out on the children what was done to them as children. How can they? Paternal authority is shrouded in myth.
    Lucky are the children whose fathers go missing early on. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were both better off. Barack Obama created his own mythic father, who spurred him on to success. Would the real one have done that? Not likely. But, do men who weren't fatherless when they were growing up hold that against him? Very likely.
    I don't think females have the same problem. That's why the myths are all about males.

    How does one cope with the reality that the individual who made you doesn't want you to exist? The Catholic catechism has a neat answer. God made you and loves you, regardless. See? Problem solved.

    'Tis not a kindness for a father to say "this is not your country. You don't belong here." Countries are figments of the imagination. You can have which ever one you create.

  •  Things change quickly in Ferguson. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    If you are on Twitter I think it is helpful to do two things: create a list of all the local politicos and news outlets and then create a collection of the images, vines and tweets that resonate with you.

    If you check my collection, you will see a vine where a police officer who released the smoke bombs said he didn't use tear gas.  Then on the timeline you will see Johnson's explanation that tear gas was used at Red's BBQ place because someone had a gun.  It's unclear who shot the man currently fighting for his life in the hospital.  7 were arrested but not the guy with the gun.  Like I said it's fluid and fast.

    I tell my friends that I am waiting for the day when overseas I begin a joke, "Two Americans are walk into the bar ..." and someone interrupts to ask me to describe the Americans.  When that happens then the dream will have been realized.  I will watch MHP's clip, but must say this ...we are all Americans no matter how we got here or when we got here.  No one is more American than another.  We are all equal under the law.  At least that is our promise.  Our challenge is to live up to our promise.

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