Week 2: the prophesy in Fahrenheit 451

A couple things that happened emotionally disturbed me greatly this past week and weekend. But in a good way.

I was having a conversation with my boyfriend about how race does play a role in how his family sees me regardless of how he wish it isn’t true. A simple conversation turned into a harsh realization of the differences we have and yet to overcome. He seemed to be dismissive of my feelings regarding this race issue until I told him an anecdote of my dad sitting me and my brother down one day and told us to be aware that because of our skincare we may potentially face discrimination or unequal treatments in the States. I did not think it mattered that much back then. The racial awareness and knowing that racism still persists despite many’s argument that it is in the past does not deter me from working hard and reaching my goals. My hair color, skin color betray my ethnic origin regardless of whether I was born and raised all my life in America or moved to a US territory when I was 10. I would still get the “she’s a foreigner, does she speak English?” “why is she dating a White person?” looks.  I am not here to blame or argue that it’s unfair, because I weight myself, my happiness and what I do with my life more than others’ thoughtless comments about me. But I am also not here to justify racism or racist remarks and actions spoke and done to other individuals who may have encounter far worse experience than I had.

It comes as a surprise to me though that race possesses a significant amount of weight in my relationship, in a relationship with someone who you are close with. I felt like he didn’t understand what struggles I face as a person of color. I wouldn’t go so far as I face discrimination everyday. But I won’t deny to admit that there were a couple people who I had encountered in my life who mocked my accent, pretended they didn’t understand what I just said, publicly mocked the way I talk after I left the room, made demeaning remarks about my origin, acted culturally ignorant and too quick to judge what my culture. To dismiss all my feelings and opinions as just “a cultural thing” is a very naive statement. What do you know about my culture? How do you know the culture is like to have Asian parents, to grow up in Asia, to move to a US territory in the Pacific, to make friends with first and second generation immigrants, to move to United States by myself when I was 18 and learn to adapt to the local culture? Culture is a fluid concept. Mine is still shaping and be shaped. It was pretty upsetting to know some people can only come so close as to be near the edge of their culture and lack the mutual compassion to understand another human being who do not have the same hair color as they do, who grew up in a different dynamics, eat different kind of food and speak another language that is no less than theirs. Funny too that those who mock my accent only speak one language though. And often time not as eloquent or elegant as their culturally different counterparts. 🙂

But may we not be too quick to judge either. Having the privilege of growing up in Asia, Pacific Islands, and North America, I am extremely blessed to have a relatively culturally diverse view on people and life. Therefore, it is an easy trap to judge those who is not as culturally experienced as I am and to see them as somewhat naive in their judgement of me. Merit that some of them do say things to hurt others’ ego and feelings, some of them might really have no idea what the world is like outside theirs. And how I respond to that also shows them a glimpse of the potential of what this world is able to teach each one of us.

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I had a long day today. When I got home and opened my laptop, the first thing that popped on my laptop screen is the homepage of my Facebook with the newest feed being a friend’s status covered in bloodily heated political/gender debate.

That friend is a Trump supporter and a strong Republic who is very open about her political debate. She started out her status with the innocent beginning, “can someone please explain to me…why women marched?” The basis of her argument is that women in the USA is already more fortunate than women of other countries. What is then the point of a protest?  She then started cursing and calling those who commented “native,” “ignorant,” “how dare you,” “what a shame!”… I do not personally agree with her logic because I think one can always compare oneself to a worse off counterpart. However, I felt disturbed as I read on. That friend basically denied that any women in the US are being treated unfairly. She said wage gap is a conspiracy and that women are able to be CEO and Supreme Court Justice, what else is there to improve on besides learn to be grateful for what we have and be quiet. Interesting though that she started out her status as a question asking for people’s opinion.

I had to close my laptop.

Only to open it later and saw an article shared by an acquaintance titled, “I am a female and I am sick of all the feminist.” The author basically disagree with the idea that women should be equal to men due to each sex’s biological differences and social role. I think the point is valid and she does acknowledge the efforts of the feminists, but to dismiss it and call it sick is a bit…offensive. There is more to the Women’s March than just ask for equal opportunity and treatments. I think a huge part is to show our current authority that women are valuable members of our society and that they deserve nothing less than men.

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In, I believe, 11th grade Honors English class in the cramped computer lab, Mr. Skogen made a memorable remark about Fahrenheit 451, something similar to this:

“The reason why firemen in Fahrenheit 451 burn books is because the society is unhappy whenever its people read the books. They find everything offensive. The government on the one hand wants to keep its subjects ignorant, on the other, does not want to see people getting offended everyday. So the authority orders all the books to be burned.”

I used to think: This is beyond absurdity. How is it possible people get offended with everything?

Now whenever wherever I am, whether walking on campus, seeing the protests on BruinWalk, virtually observing and absorbing the informations on the internet, and sometimes even talking with my boyfriend. I am now able to understand what Mr.Skogen meant.

IL