We all have that well-meaning friend or acquaintance who thinks his or her knowledge of politically correct lingo and the current line-up of "ethnically-authentic" television shows automatically grants special membership to an ultra-exclusive club of hip minorities. 

There's always, for instance, that non-black friend with a penchant for racial slurs who blurts out "But my best friend is black!" any time he or she is accused of racism, the same friend who proudly declares "I watch 'The Wire'!" anytime a black person enters the room.

Having witnessed the indecencies of our justice system and the insidious nature of power and patriarchy, I am part of the 74% of Americans who know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. I was about five or six years old the first time I witnessed intimate partner violence (IPV); my mother, at twenty-one, was gasping for air by the hands of a young man, likely no older than I am today. It is unfortunate, yet telling, that often times it is violence and power that give us our element of humanity. And although it is my first vivid memory, it was surely not the last. A number of broken bones and ribs, collapsed lungs and swollen features later, I found myself face to face in a number of hospital rooms with a resilient yet lost soul; a woman who had not yet found the resolve to transition from victim to survivor.  

Disclaimer: The discussion of inclusivity and solidarity is relevant to many constituencies in different ways; this is my unique take as an Asian, female-identified individual.

I’ve come to a curious, heightened recognition these past few weeks: my ethnicity is something to laugh at. When an Asian woman is denigrated and exoticized by a group of white men in an offensive video entitled “Asian Girlz”, I am told I shouldn’t be so upset because the woman clearly enjoyed it and the video was clearly just a joke. When the lone Asian character in the critically acclaimed Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” perpetuates negative racial tropes through easy, cheap humor that capitalizes off of her awkward silences and accented, broken English, I’m supposed to double back in laughter, shake my head, and say “Well, at least they have Laverne Cox!” When I express my anger at careless, racist reporting of an Asiana Airlines crash that killed two teenage girls--KTVU fired a producer after the network broadcast the pilots’ names as “Sum Ting Wong,” “Wi Tu Lo,” “Ho Lee Fuk,” and “Bang Ding Ow”--the immediate reaction I get is a giggle and a laugh. 

To this day, I don’t know what my father looks like.  In 24 years I have had no contact with my biological father; it is more likely that someone reading this post has more information on him than I do.  Despite my complete disconnect from “that” side of my family, I’ve always known I was half white.  And for as long as I’ve been aware of my mixed ethnic heritage, I’ve identified as a black girl, unequivocally.  How could I possibly pledge allegiance to a culture I didn’t know?  To people I’d never talked to or even seen? 

Over 24 million children in the U.S. live without their biological fathers.  These children are, on average, two to three times more likely to experience education, behavioral, health and emotional problems, use drugs, be poor, engage in criminal activity or be victims of child abuse than their peers residing with two (married) parents. 

Increased interracial dating serves, for some, as strong, heartwarming evidence for the existence of a post-racial world. With a significant jump in the percentage of newlywed couples in interracial marriages--from 3.2% in 1980 to about 15% in 2010--it's hard to believe that race-based restrictions on marriage were only completely invalidated in 1967.
Others, however, are quick to point out the race and gender imbalances behind interracial dating. My Chinese-American ex-boyfriend once pointed out an Asian woman and a white man locking hands as they left a store together in Times Square. "I'd like that more," he whispered to me as he shook his head, barely hiding his disdain for the young couple, "but you never see it the other way around.  No Asian man is considered attractive enough to be in that kind of relationship."

The black man occupies a unique space in American culture.  He is an aggressive and inherently violent threat to society.   Both insatiable and lazy, he is creator of chaos and maker of his own inevitable demise; he is forever guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  He does not feel pain, or remorse, or empathy.  As angry and volatile as their female counterparts, black men, by their very presence, give society reason to assume the defensive.  He is simultaneously invisible and ever present in the minds and lives of white America.  A non-citizen, he holds no right to self-defense.    

Debased, filthy and unworthy, black men, we are told, are sexual deviants incapable of either desiring or maintaining healthy, meaningful relationships. 

PictureMy quiche! I'm clearly embarrassed to be Korean
Picture this: After consulting with everyone you know who owns a spatula, you prepare for your friends the best 3-course meal of sweet potato mash, steak, and spinach salad you've ever cooked in your entire life. Now imagine that, as you nervously watch people pick at your beloved culinary creations, a friend turns to you and says, "Listen, everything is great. But this salad has Italian dressing, the potatoes are from Ireland, and the wine is from Spain. This isn't an authentic representation of your unique ethnic roots."

"I just think," another friend quips, "that you're ashamed of your culture."

Reality turns to figments of imagination
lubricated through fabricated assimilation
so that public oppressions
are hid through third world dissections
two wrongs make a right
and as long as our morals are in sight
and religious sanctions are tight,
the pains of a people from clashing nations
become rights of passage and nationalistic sensations