Please enjoy our first in a series of posts by Emily, our Student Blogger.
According to the astrologists, professionals, and my gut, 2020 seems inevitably doomed in many aspects of our lives: physical health, mental health, relationships, society, politics, and so much more. Not to be a pessimist or anything—I think some change and growth have been long overdue. The uncertainty and turmoil has forced us to re-evaluate and reflect, to take a good look at ourselves and the world around us with clearer eyes. Perhaps we’ve been too comfortable, too complacent about the status quo.
How people deal with these changes is different for everyone, which may cause a little (or a lot) of discomfort seeing as this is uncharted territory for many of us. And I am no exception. I am especially not an exception, because my circumstances have allowed me to live in a quiet bubble for practically my entire seventeen years of existence. Maybe I had always sensed that bubble just under the surface, but the outside world had never hit me as hard as it did this year. It didn’t help that I was a natural homebody, or that the only glimpses I caught of other people’s marginalization were few and far between.
I first learned about the “model minority” myth when Black Lives Matter seeped into my social media, bringing along with it talks of race, inequality, American history, privilege, and social norms. And one day, a particular post about Asian-Americans made me realize that despite all the conversations I was having with friends, I had never attempted to breach the topic with my own parents. Was I scared? Of course. I knew that their perspective as Chinese immigrants was that America was their second chance, and that very little could be worse in America than in China. But when I saw those Instagram posts about having “difficult conversations” with friends and family, I don’t think I fully comprehended just how difficult those conversations really were.
“Would you dare to live in a place with no police?” was my mother’s first question to me, looking utterly baffled at the idea that anyone would want to get rid of the people who are meant to protect us. I didn’t have a good enough answer to that, so I instead tried to inform her about the model minority I had recently learned about. How we’re so used to staying quiet and obedient that we don’t speak up even when the problem is right in front of us. But she only nodded and agreed, adding that “yes, we do seem more obedient and unproblematic”—as if it was a good thing. As if keeping our heads down and playing the part expected of us was the right thing to do. As if the chaos was caused by “them,” not “us.”
God. Is that really what society has molded us into? Law-abiding little sheep that shy away from conflict for the sake of keeping peace? Even if “keeping peace” really meant silencing those who want their voices heard—both “them” and “us”?
The conversation died easily (almost too easily), mostly because my mother was busy washing the dishes and I was busy trying to swallow the lump in my throat.