“Autumn (my middle name) you have so much pride for your culture and ethnicity. I wish I did too but I kinda hate being Asian.”
This Snapchat message I received from a friend started a long conversation about racial self hatred and colonialism. My friend is Americanized and like many of us, is slightly ashamed of the ways of immigrant parents and all else that separates us from the “All American” standard. He shared that when he goes to Asian communities he can’t help but see a bunch of “primitive people that look stupid.”
I pointed out to him that anything less than Western, specifically not White, is given the label of uncivilized. While Westerners time and time again exploit societies and appropriate culture, it is sworn that the people themselves are primitive in some form.
What’s most frustrating is the “savior image” the colonizers have always had. After raping an entire community of wealth and pride, years later they return to offer charity and give back to the people they left poor. While I’m not knocking charity organizations and the giving hearts behind them, they, in a modern sense, still perpetuate the idea that Westerners are the standard of civility and stability…….that ethnic people must look to them for both survival and success.
We can survive and be successful within our own communities. It is crucial for minorities to build ourselves by building education and wealth. I’m not suggesting we start from scratch and literally build a city from an abandoned lot. Simply making a conscious effort to support the community by putting your money into ethnic-owned businesses makes the difference. Create programs that spread more than just love. Offer skills. Activist DeRay Mckesson stresses that although love is important, love is not a skill that will take us out of poverty. Spread knowledge and teach a skill that will create jobs. Let’s create a future where we don’t have to move to predominately white neighborhoods to give our children better education.
We are more than appropriated culture sold on a store shelf BUT these products do show that we are capable and skilled enough to create just about anything great and do so without abandoning the reflection of ourselves. The creativity and supreme talent translated to make these gems are only extensions of the beauty in the minds and hearts of our people. Ethnic is much more than the trendy restaurant everyone is talking about downtown. We are more than a trend but not for sale. Let’s build.