I am not here to tell you about how upset I am with the election results. I am also not here to say how much I dislike our president-elect and would have wanted him to stay on “The Apprentice” instead of becoming our leader. And I also won’t say that I fear for the safety of my children and of millions of other children of color.But the reason why I am writing this today is because my heart is aching and the only way I know how to help it is by writing.
A few days ago I was in the store buying groceries and walked towards the checkout. As I saw a young man about to open his register, I went towards him and an older couple cut right in front of me.
I said nicely “I was here before you, the line is behind me.” She turned to me with profanities erupting from her mouth, telling me that she had been waiting in the other line for 20 minutes and so it was her right to go ahead of me. “That’s fine, I didn’t know that. Go ahead but you really don’t need to talk to me like that,” was my reply. The man who was with her turned to me and said, “You f****** b****, you better go back from where you came from. I’m going to come after you, just wait and see.” I stood there silently with every inch of strength that I had in me, I didn’t show fear or agitation. Instead I just ignored him and waited for my turn. The couple started to look at me, point at me and then laugh out loud trying to make me uneasy. I forget to tell you, I am an American-born citizen of South Asian heritage. I was brave in front of the bullies but I was shaking as I came out. I felt like for the first time in my life I was scared to just hang out in my neighborhood. Then it dawned on me that I was an adult so I knew exactly how to deal with it ― but what about my children? I have two teenagers and an adult child who are always out and about, and yes, I fear for their safety. Not that someone will outright physically hurt them but emotional scars can be just as bad. Being bullied for who you are is as bad, if not worse, than physical abuse.
Growing up between two cultures I always wanted my children to take pride in who they are.
“Don’t ever be ashamed of who you are.”
“Be proud of yourself.”
“Not many people can speak multiple languages so take pride in that.”
“Being exotic-looking is a compliment.”
“Having an accent doesn’t make you less of a person.”
But now when I tell them to be safe and not indulge in political arguments about race and identity, the response is a little scary to me.
“Mom, why not? You told us to always speak up for what is right no matter how difficult the path is. So no, I’m not going to let anyone bully me.”
Many of my “friends” who are Trump supporters have said that we are overreacting by fearing for the safety of our children. But I do want to let them know that the reason we are so upset about the election results isn’t because we have some personal issue with our president-elect. It’s because if it’s ok for the strongest man on Earth (the ppresident-elect of the United States) to bully and make fun of people, it’s ok for the rest of us too. It’s like a teacher agreeing with the class bully ― it allows all the students to follow the lead of the teacher.
Hatred and racism has increased since the election results; yes, I am fearful. People who already have hatred in their hearts now have permission to say it out loud. But I am also full of hope. When I posted on my Facebook about what happened to me at the store, I got hundred of texts, Facebook messages and calls from people who said they were standing right next to me in this time where I am being singled out for the color of my skin.
So yes, even though there is fear and anger right now I am still hopeful. Hopeful that there are good people out there who will stand up against hatred and racial profiling. Hopeful that even after I am gone, my children will be able to stand up for themselves and others who are in the minority, and hopeful for a world where peace will prevail.