Today I want to vent a bit.
This pandemic has taught me of who I am, and can be, in a variety of dimensions. I read somewhere that the seven stages of grief materialized for many during the quarantine. Needless to say, I was nodding vigorously in agreement.
From sheer “what the fuck?” to depression to alcoholism to finally some acceptance, it’s been a weird few months. For all of us.
I’m fortunate to not have known a single person directly related or acquainted to me to have gotten infected. I’m fortunate that I live in privilege with a very well paying job, graduated, and in a part of California that isn’t totally full of batshit crazy or dumb. All I’ve had to do was wear a mask to go grocery shopping (a new hobby for this techie used to free food). All I’ve had to do was realize that I can’t travel anywhere and pout every few days. All I’ve just had to do was sit here in my home office set up and type, type, type away my complaints to friends that I’m can’t be at a house party or in Hawaii.
So in some ways, the pandemic has many times felt like such a distant reality to me, and the “social responsibility” that I’ve had to take up was just sitting my butt at home.
Thus, it enrages me when I can’t help but feel frustrated about staying inside, not being able to be with anyone outside of this impromptu notion of a social bubble. I keep telling myself I should be able to handle this, and be glad I’m not in any other situation. I used to half joke that this pandemic was an extrovert massacre, and cringe at my own weakness because the lack of face to face was indeed eating me inside out.
When protests broke out across the country for the killing of George Floyd, I was further faced with my own pitiful self. Where I was burning with anger at the incredulity of systemic racism and its deeply burrowed roots in this country, I couldn’t even raise my own voice against my very own mother, who chastised me for wanting to attend the protests, followed by stereotypical racist remarks of an Asian mother. Just thinking about the myth of model minorities, and how exactly my parents are the individuals that perpetuate racism make my eyes flow with hot tears. At the same time, I’m ashamed of myself, because secretly there was a part of me that was definitely using the pandemic as an excuse to declare that I can’t attend the protests, when in fact I was just scared of police, when in fact I was strolling down equally crowded aisles at the Korean supermarket, when in fact I was just the silent racist as well.
Thus I’ve come to be angered and depressed at my own realization that I’m a coddled child that craves to pay thousands to tour sites of still-rampant racism in Israel or Japan, while biting my lip as I’m donating a mere few Benjamins to BLM.
Where this ends up today for me is an open ended conversation with my own conscience and moral compass about what the right things to do and to feel really are. It is not a crime for me to have been born privileged and non-Black, to have experienced the delightful feeling of a plane touching down in a different continent, to feel conflicted with following my Korean traditions of being respectful to my elders while wanting to dismantle injustice.
It is a crime for me to be ignorant of my community and stagnant against what is wrong. It requires constant effort to not be idle.
by Claude McKay
Although she feeds me bread of bitterness,
And sinks into my throat her tiger’s tooth,
Stealing my breath of life, I will confess
I love this cultured hell that tests my youth.
Her vigor flows like tides into my blood,
Giving me strength erect against her hate,
Her bigness sweeps my being like a flood.
Yet, as a rebel fronts a king in state,
I stand within her walls with not a shred
Of terror, malice, not a word of jeer.
Darkly I gaze into the days ahead,
And see her might and granite wonders there,
Beneath the touch of Time’s unerring hand,
Like priceless treasures sinking in the sand.
Thanks for reading.
To me, educate yourself, act where you can, and continue the fight.