Racist Victims of Racism
By Jasmine Maung
According to The Lily, it’s difficult to talk to your non-black families about Black Lives Matter and racism as they can take it the wrong way. They may think you’re trying to imply there are things they didn’t have to experience or go through since they are not a person of color. “My mom was born in Mexico so she never really learned about racism or how to not make offensive comments. My mom believes in “all lives matter” and she thinks black people are always going to be doing crime,” says Susana Alcala, a 9th grader. Some immigrant families may have the wrong view when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement considering they don’t know much about the background behind it. In this case, Susana’s mom thinks that “Black Lives Matter” means that only African American lives matter and others don’t, but that’s not the case.
Many people of color believe that being White gives you more privileges than being a person of color. In an article by The Lily, Annie Velasco, a 15 year old high school student, says, “When you look at novellas and when you’re looking at Latin media and news outlets, you only see White Latina.” This shows that lots of POC (people of color) want to be in proximity to whiteness.“Almost all my friends are POC, and although we realize that we would have an easier time if we were white, we wouldn’t trade our cultural heritage for the world. It’s part of our identity,” says Dorothy Nguyen, a 10th grader at John F. Kennedy High school. Proximity to whiteness is actually very common when it comes to Asian culture. You may see videos online with Asians putting on some type of cream or wash to try and make themselves appear white. This is dangerous, as it can influence people and make them believe that being White is better than being the race that they already are. In The Lily’s article, Chelsey Zhu, a 20 year old college student, is given a skin whitening cream from her mother. Whitening creams and washes are normalized in Asia; it’s almost like they’re being told that pale skin is more beautiful than the skin color they already have.
Black Lives Matter is a very powerful movement, that is of course mis-understood by many immigrant parents. Susana’s mother believes that the movement is stating that black lives only matter while others do not. Dorothy’s parents believe the movement is selfish.That isn’t the case though, all lives do matter, but as of now, Black lives and other colored lives are the ones that are most in danger. Dorothy Nguyen says, “It gets frustrating trying to explain why human rights matter, but I’ve learned it’s important to find middle ground and go from there. It’s still a work in progress, but that’s what being an ally is right?”
Talon Hostelle, a 9th grader at John F. Kennedy High school, says,“I feel like it’s [white supremacy] the most ignorant thing a person can think because thinking you’re better than a different race because of your skin color and not what’s on the inside is horrible.” White supremacy is the belief that White people are superior to all races, yes, it exists. “People think it’s just personal prejudices and acts of discrimination but it’s so much more than that. It’s actually a system and it affects our schools, politics, economy, and just everyday life. Susana Alcala, a 9th grader at John F. Kennedy High School, says,“Some white people don’t want to change anything or even admit it because they wouldn’t want to lose authority.” Experiencing racism and having racial privilege aren’t exclusive. People of color can face racism and be racist at the same time, due to misunderstandings or just not being educated enough on what is happening in the country.