I Hear You, I See You, I Feel You

Updated: Jun 27, 2021

My friends, I’ve been very aware of my silence.

Day by day, I’ve been witnessing, listening, learning, and reflecting deeply on this collective human matter. While others spoke out, I wondered where my voice stood. Privileged in one too many ways, halfway across the world, how can I make a difference to what has happened to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and countless more? I wanted to make sure that my every word - as an international female citizen who embraces America and Taiwan as both my homes - accurately conveys my heart’s sincerest intentions for a better tomorrow.

For this is beyond racism. We’re talking about basic human morality.

First, let me take you back to the year 1999. Born in New York, I moved to Taipei, Taiwan for a good decade before suddenly uprooting to Central California. I was a fresh-off-the-boat, culturally-shocked, non-religious Taipei city girl navigating her way around a predominantly-white conservative town. I quickly learned that I was one out of a handful Asian students at my new Catholic High School. Joining me were a few other BIPOC, two black students to be exact. While every person I encountered at school treated me with kindness and curiosity, I stuck out like a sore thumb while feeling invisible. Until one day, I received the shocking news that I was voted as the Freshmen Homecoming Princess. The unusual welcome felt even stranger when I found out that accompanying this "honorable" title was a Sophomore boy, an exchange student from Africa. Till this day, I can still feel the knot in my stomach on the night of Homecoming. Although I didn't want to believe it, I knew it in my heart that our votes were not based on popularity, academic achievements, talents, or beauty. While the intentions may have been sweet, the votes narrowed down to the colors of our skins. The token Asian girl and the Black African boy. That night, I awkwardly waived to a crowd of disinterested white student body and their families who barely spoke to me or knew my name the two years I was there. We didn’t have to say anything, but I knew my counterpart felt the same. We were the perfectly-crafted PR mascots on display.

This may be the worst racial story you’ve ever heard. Where’s the blatant racial slurs or violence? Only that counts for discrimination, right? Who am I to talk about discrimination when unarmed black men, women, boys, girls, children are getting killed for going about their everyday lives? But my uneventful story is one of a million examples of daily racial incidents where BIPOC are treated as “special,” different, mysterious, a hyphen, second class citizens in a place they want to call home. The Asian community definitely does not receive the same level of injustice as the Black or Latino community, could it be that we've naturally accepted our AZN, nerdy, gangster, accommodating, doctoral, tiger-parenting, bad-driving, ethnic stereoype? What can actually happen if we demand to be seen as unique capable individuals rather than living out the preconceived notion of one's race?

Today, as we witness the aftermath of George Floyd, the minorities are finally saying "NO MORE!" Alongside the Black community, I am here to acknowledge that discrimination exists full-on, deeply entrenched in behaviors that one cannot even fathom ...

While I will never condone violence, I understand anger. Anger, just like love, is a forceful energy. When the underlying sadness, fear, injustice are suppressed for centuries too long, just like the emotional and mental neurosis evoked by a pandemic lockdown, what inevitably follows is an explosion. How did we not see this coming?

Discrimination is not just an American issue, or a white/black problem, it happens to the best of us. We've all knowingly or subconsciously committed discrimination to others while being discriminated against for our innate differences. I find it disheartening when every member of a race is shamefully held accountable for the sins of their predecessors. We are all connected, but individual souls. We are capable improving and learning. If we pulled out the history books, go through each nation and their stories of wars and brutalities one by one, the evil held by each of our ancestors would be endless. While we carry transgenerational trauma, we are no longer them. Today, we can change for the better. 

Discrimination derives from ignorance, which can be shifted by education. Not just through school systems, history books, and most definitely not news/social media. Drastic shifts can happen by opening our hearts. When we open our hearts, we can fully HEAR, SEE, FEEL into someone else’s experiences. This is called Empathy, and it goes beyond race.