I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.

I’m not jealous. You’re jealous.

There’s general jealousy, like envy, a sort of wanting of something that you admire, but you know that it will not satisfy you once you have it. Then there’s a deep, dark, rage-type jealousy that includes (but is absolutely not limited to) wishing you were as talented and/or intelligent as someone else, that you could be that amazing, celebrity-like, star person. And then there’s the type of jealousy that just makes you want to kill yourself, end it all in the name of “What the hell is the point of me even trying when someone like her already exists?” The “her” in question is none other than Ursula K. Le Guin.

Like all of my favorite writers, I found out about Le Guin not long before she passed away. I’ve read a number of her short stories and novels, but the truth is that I prefer her nonfiction, well, just the one nonfiction I’ve read so far (aside from essays and other, shorter nonfiction), No Time To Spare: Thinking about what matters. It’s a beautiful book about aging, growing older, being old. It’s the type of book that I wish I could simply quote in its entirety here, but obviously, that’s illegal. The book, nevertheless, is that good. I could and would gladly transcribe the thing in its entirety for you to read. Of course, you can, as easily, check the book out yourself from your local library (and I would encourage you to do so).

And so, I have decided to choose my top five quotes, the quotes that are resonating with me the most these days. They are as follows (okay, my top 6), in page order as opposed to order of importance, which would, theoretically, be impossible to determine:

6. “Old age is for anybody who gets there.” (p 9)

5. “When did it become impossible for our government to ask its citizens to refrain from short-term gratification in order to serve a greater good?” (p 118)

4. “It’s so much easier to blame the grown ups than to be one.” (p 123)

3. “Cruelty is a human specialty, which human beings continue to practice and perfect and institutionalize, though we seldom boast about it.” (p 151)

2. “Belief has no value in itself that I can see. Its value increases as it is useful, diminishes as it is replaced by knowledge, and goes negative when noxious. In ordinary life, the need for it diminishes as the quantity and quality of knowledge increases.” (p 195)

1. “The warmth of the sun is on my face as soon as its light is.” (p 211)

Am I a POC? And what is white, anyway?

Am I a POC? And what is white, anyway?

Am I?

I suppose that to know the answer to such a question requires the answer to a lot of other questions, namely, if I’m Asian—therefore descendent from Asian Culture—then what is Caucasian Culture? And is that how you know if you are or are not white, if you were raised in Caucasian Culture? Perhaps it is this question, specifically, that whites, in general, fear to know. How does that saying go?, You never try to find that which you would rather not see. And it is under this all-encompassing shame of whiteness that has ultimately led to a nation full of white people who have no culture, no identity. The world is not divided. White people, all over the world, are divided, and they have no cultural center or glue to rely on because to rely on Caucasian Culture would be to colonize.

Look at any, scientifically backed, global census. Here, just check out the Wikipedia page for Demographics of the World. That’s a simple enough check, right? Alright, so you didn’t need to scroll far to get a percentage distribution for the races of the world. If you add up the percentages of the populations of continents that are “not white,” you get a whopping 80%, which reveals that a healthy majority of the world is “not white.” All I’m saying is that when the news or the news or the news spews gossip about how the “nation is divided,”  “the world is divided,” what they’re really saying is that “white people are divided,” therefore, the nation is white, the world is white. But the United States of America is not only white, just like the world is not only “not white.” It never has been. This land upon which America stands had already been settled by “non-whites.” And according to today’s standards, Spaniards are “not white.” Are you starting to see my predicament? If everyone is “not white” then who is “white” and what does being “white” mean? Luckily for us “non-white”—and oh the irony now—the answer has been documented quite well by all those white people. It’s called History. In reality, we ought to refer to it as the History of Only the Good Aspects of White America, but then all of those atrocities would need to be documented in fairness and equality, and white people are divided on this issue.

So, what is Caucasian Culture? Fortunately for those “non-whites” out there, I have an inside scoop. As a “person of color,” I was raised by two white people. And honestly, it was awesome. Even though I look Asian, I had white parents, and we lived in a very small mountain town. Everyone knew who I was; everyone knew I was my white parents’ child. Obviously, I never thought about it that way when I was growing up; I simply never realized that I was “not white.” Intellectually I knew I was Asian, look at me, but that understanding did not come with the filter of being treated like an Asian. Sure, there were probably some people who treated me like an Asian, but everyone knew me, and so issues like that went largely unnoticed. There was this one time, though, sometime in grade school, when my dad, brother and I ran through Subway—as one was wont to do in those days—and while the guy making our sandwiches was ringing us up, he looked at me and my brother, and then, he looked at my dad and said, “They must really look like their mother.” My brother laughed, the way that he always laughed when one reveals their ignorance to him. My father scoffed as if the guy was a fool. And I looked at both of them, the only two males I had ever loved at that point in my life, and then looked at the guy behind the counter and asked, “What?” I honestly didn’t really understand what he was suggesting. My dad gave the guy a dirty look without another word. My brother muttered something and ushered me along to our table. I had every privilege and opportunity that every other “white kid” in my town had. If I had encountered a problem, two white people would come to my rescue, not two more “persons of color.” But even in all of this privilege, I was never taught or it was never explained to me that Caucasian Culture equaled Racist Culture.

Don’t get me wrong, I had the best parents when it came to their responsibility to instill within me a sense of and pride for my own race, to flesh out my identity in its entirety. And honestly, I think my mother will be disappointed to read my father’s reaction. She, being a masterful squeaky wheel, would have taught that guy a lesson about adoption. I can feel her now wanting to reach out and touch my face, tell me that I’m beautiful and that there’s no hair like Asian hair and no eyes as beautiful as Asian eyes, but she’s biased. No matter, we traveled as a family to South Korea during the summer before I started seventh grade. Before that trip, my mom attempted—on too many an occasion—to cook Korean food. We attended Korean Heritage Camp every summer and learned all about what it meant to be Korean, to grow an appreciation for why we look the way that we look that our differences are not just superficial. Koreans are different peoples, they have a culture, a way of life, that is not the same as the one I am growing up in. All of this effort, on top of also sending me around the world before I graduated from high school, forced upon me an innate understanding that everyone is different. There are no two people who are the same. How could you possibly treat an entire population of people the same way be it good or bad? The privileges of my childhood are privileges that, when whites say “people of color,” oppressed people do not have set into the palm of their hand, their only decision being whether or not you want to go on safari in South Africa.

Am I “white” then, if I experienced all of the privileges of “being white?” Well, first and foremost, I would never want to be white. No offense, but just look at History, white history! Caucasians are notoriously racist bigots with nothing on their minds but to control the lives and well-being of anyone “not white.” All “non-whites” are beneath the white man, and white history has shown us little else but this cultural consistency. So, what is Caucasian Culture? I’ll say it. The white man is Death. When the white man arrives, “non-whites” die. When the white man wants, “non-whites” die. When the white man takes, “non-whites” die. When the white man saves, still “non-whites” die. Wherever the white man goes, destruction follows, death in destruction’s wake. Obviously, no one is so naive to think that only white men are capable of such destruction. Nay, all men are capable of such destruction. All races are capable of such destruction, even of its own people. But that ought to be ANCIENT history by now. And, guess what, probably so capable are also women, but the men of the world have little to no idea what women of the past were capable of. We’re starting to find out now, though. My bet is that life for all people will be better with women in charge, just look at all the other apex mammals.

But today, here in the United States, we are not discussing the ills of other nations, the strife between people of the same race and nation. We are discussing white America. And the history of white America is not one to be admired. And yet, we are all sitting here today, in America, the great nation of freedom. And we want more. We want more. We have been groomed to be groundbreakers (literally, think of the Oregon Trail days), innovators, aspirants of the best, but unfortunately, this aspiration has turned into a sickly greed demon refusing to acknowledge the position of white privilege. Of course, not all white people subscribe to Caucasian Culture, but enough of them do and have split open the world of white people. White people are divided. “Non-whites” know what equality is because we can see it from the outside. Unfortunately, white people today do not even seem to know what equality is. Not only do whites treat “non-whites” terribly, they also, and have also throughout white history, treat poor white people just as poorly. So, what’s a poor white person to do: Support the fight and make sure that all people are equal, or do they ensure that they can rise through the ranks of the white world that continues to rule over and oppress all people?

I do not know what stimulates white people to fight for themselves over the good of the whole, but I do know that when your life’s survival is on the line, you are only thinking about Number One, yourself. Which then begs the question, why are all these white people in white America so poor that they’ve been resigned to survival mode? This is why I do not blame poor white people for not being on the side of all people. I blame the rich white people for taking such horrible care of their own people that they cannot do anything more beyond surviving from day to day. Shame on you, to all of you from every race and nation.

Fortunately, for me, I do not know what it is like to be white, but, like I stated earlier, I do know how awesome it is to reap all of the benefits of white privilege. At least, I used to. All of this “white privilege” disappeared once I represented myself, an Asian. Outside of the small town from whence I came, no one knows who my parents are, and worse, I am now in a relationship, and I fear that people assume that I’ve simply married a white guy, and I did, but my last name is not his white last name; it’s my very own white last name, my father’s white last name. And now, I don’t know if that’s any different or any better. In short, I used to be a “non-white” white person or “Twinkie,” but now I’m finding out that I’ve been “non-white” for quite some time. I have probably been a Person Of Color in the eyes of the world since the day I left for college, never to live again under my parents’ roof except for visits. But I only realized this a few days ago.

It all started, fittingly, over an IG convo I was having with an old friend of mine from college. We were chatting about Korean food, obviously, that’s what Koreans do. And then we started talking about my writing. In the end, she called me a POC author. And then I Googled “POC author.” And then I realized that I am a Person Of Color. I didn’t know whether to cry or scream. I’m not mad at my friend, obviously, she may be capitalizing on this “uplifting of minorities” in the publishing industry herself. If anything, I am extremely grateful for her essentially telling me that I live in David Foster Wallace’s “water.” Rudely awoken, I got to thinking … and writing. And I’ve come to zero conclusions, except for one, that perhaps has a few parts. First, white America sees me as Asian, but I’m culturally “white.” Second, white America sees me as Asian, but I’m not culturally Asian. Do not even get me started about being a “non-white” white person in Korea, that’s a story for another time.

I cannot live up to the stereotypes of Asian-Americans who live under the rule of a Tiger Mom. Neither can most Asian-Americans! And no one applies the stereotypes of whites on my Asian face. Whites are the most self-absorbed when learning about other people and cultures. Nothing makes me feel more diminished then when some white guy asks me where I’m from and when I respond, “Colorado,” they say, “No, where are you from?” If you are white and are reading this and thinking, “But the guy’s just trying to be nice. You’re the one saying that ‘whites are self-absorbed,’ but look, the guy’s trying to get to know you.” Well, sure, I hear you, but that’s not exactly the point. Do white guys ask you (I was picturing a blonde Texan in a pearl snap shirt and fringe tassel vest, with a short denim skirt and cowboy boots, despite never having ridden a horse or any live animal) where you’re “really” from? Didn’t think so. He only asked me because of my race not in order to learn anything about me as a person. It’s like someone complimenting your makeup. Some people are into it, but I do not understand the logic of feeling complimented when someone is praising your ability to be fake. It all comes down to that age old argument, “I do not have a choice.” Whites use this argument to get out of sticky situations. “Non-whites” are forced to rely upon it to try to make whites understand. And with race and sexuality and physical ability and intelligence and anything to do with variations beyond our control because they happen in the womb, all of these Civil Rights, we have to believe in them, uphold them, and then create a world that treats people as people not as a color.

So, no. I reject your offer to color me. I am a person. I am a human. That’s it. There’s nothing more to it. So to all my people out there, do we take advantage of this white olive branch and accept that they accept us and ultimately, get along striving toward equality? I mean, the whites have a lot going for them. Or do we give up on white people and just take them down? Honestly, I don’t really want to interact with anyone white or “non-white” who isn’t going to treat me like a human, first and foremost. So, could all the racists, bigots and misogynists please stand up? Oh, wait. We already see you.

 

No Coming Back

No Coming Back

She always thought that being a child was overrated. Despite what others might say to her through the desperate need to matter, her youth will not fade anytime soon. If only they knew, she mumbles, as they grasp at this reality daunted by age and bound to time like a worthless servant, extant only to service a master that will grind them back to the ash from whence they came. Read more

The Garden

The Garden

He always knew that her happiest day would be that fated day when she would die. Now she’s dead. Obviously, he’s not happy, but he is on some level since he knows that all she ever wanted was to no longer be alive. And so, if part with her physically he must, with happiness and goodness, he will and at the very least, selfishly keep her alive by using her physical remains to nourish the garden she tended to every single day, in the long shadow of his envy. Read more

Quote

‘Between Two Lands’

When someone believes you don’t belong,

it’s their ignorance that’s judging where you’re from.

When they determine you don’t have a home,

remind them that no one really does,

and if your soul and your flesh don’t seem to match,

know that bigots are hard to tell,

and do not fear what those dumbasses may attach,

to the you you’ve cultivated so well.

-TKsCM

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