Who Tells Their Story

The first thing white people did upon hearing about the latest slaughter was to argue whether it was racist.

You’d think that was a no-brainer: While male murderer, Asian female victims. You’d think, after a year of a racist President racializing a pandemic, after reports for months of random attacks on Asian Americans, something like this would be easily, if sorrowfully, understood.

You’d think that. Unless you were white, apparently.

We don’t understand, being white ourself, why that’s a hard one. There’s a lot we’ve grown to understand about being white in America, especially during the past few years, but this one escapes us. There’s a palpable need to argue this away, to deflect it into something else, as if there’s something at stake to be lost if we grant that yes, this one’s racist, too.

It’s not like there isn’t a history here, from the railroads through internment camps and on. It’s not like this hasn’t persisted into our lifetime, when Mickey Rooney donned his buck teeth and went for it.

Maybe we thought we had gotten over this one? Maybe after declaring Asians a Model Minority back in the Eighties, we thought we could scratch that off the list? Look how smart they are! Must be the Tiger Moms.

And rich! You know, like that movie! Crazy rich!

Maybe that’s what’s at stake: Realizing that if we can still be as racist toward Asians as the darker hues in the Crayola box, maybe we haven’t learned a damn thing.

Maybe the Model Minority thing itself was a dismissive scam.

Maybe we wypipo are as fucked up by our hegemony as we’ve always been.

That’s the privilege we hear about: the privilege of rank in a demographically hegemonic society, a privilege so thorough we’re surprised to learn new details about it, the multitude of things we take for granted that others are all too aware of.

Among those privileges: We get to have serious arguments whether a racist slaughter is really racist. Because who’s to say, if not us? We start letting other voices in the room, other voices from other backgrounds with other experiences, and fuck, we might have to start changing things, y’know? Can’t have that!

For starters, we may no longer have the last word. Our story may no longer be the defining one, the standard of storytelling. Other stories, from other people with other backgrounds and other experiences, may be just as legitimate, even more so, if their stories are more relevant to the event at hand than our abstract judgment of the necessary conditions of racist animus.

In other words, we lose our grip on society, a grip centuries in the making.

Was the slaughter racist? You know what, have that argument. Because if you want to show what a failure we white folk are at running this joint, you’re doing a fine job of it.

7 Comments

My psychologist, a Chinese-American born in Hong Kong, has been on the receiving end of so much anti-Asian hate here in the past year that she’s afraid to go for walk in her nice, safe neighborhood. After she was spit or coughed on twice by unmasked white men at Safeway, I offered to do her grocery shopping. (She decided to use delivery instead). I’ve been fearing something like Atlanta for months.

he privilege of rank in a demographically hegemonic society: If you haven’t read Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, I highly recommend it. For one thing, it definitively answers the question: why do poor whites vote agains their own interest?

Soon as you write about one mass murder, another comes up.

Jeezus. There are some things I don’t wish were returning to normal.

China has done a lot of stupid arrogant things, but they did not fuck up as huge as they did with SARS. They actually did something. Unlike one country in particular.

It’s not like Asian Americans denied that Covid 19 was spreading like wildfire or pretended that it wasn’t a problem. That’s mostly white Americans at least from what I have seen but the racist dummies like picking on easier targets. Easier for racists to blame THE others than the very idiot incompetence leaders they elected.

And this about class as well. North American and Asian. I lived a well to do upper middle class life thanks to my parents. I didn’t have to struggle like a lot of immigrants have. The last few years as I have been digging out of financial holes (the biggest one self inflicted) thanks to several traumatic life events, I have learned a few things about race especially among the lower orders where I am now here in US America’s Hat.

Ten dead, including the first police officer on the scene. Boulder’s a college town of 105,000, not unlike the Eugene I grew up in. When I read that the grocery store was part of a strip mall, I immediately translated it to a stretch of West Eugene notorious for that.

But Eugene has been represented in Congress for almost fifty years by Dems, while Boulder has the gun-totin’ crazy lady who isn’t the one who gets all the attention. She was quick with Thought&Prayers tonight.

Nooooooo! The woman who played Mallory/Lucille dead.
So long Jessica Walter.

@ Manchu,

She was OG fantastic as a guest star on Murder She Wrote.

She was also awesome as the snarktastic college president in the movie PCU, who closed the math department to make way for bisexual Asian studies.

My memories of Jessica Walter are not the usual ones.

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