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  • Writer's pictureShou Yuan

The future

The vast majority of geneticists in the field believe that race is an outdated variable in determining a person's genetic makeup. Genetic research doesn't support the presumption that race can be used as a biological classification tool. Yet, because of preexisting expectations and socialized conditioning, we each fall into our place assigned by the social construct of race. So what happens when you don't have a clearly defined spot in this social order?

I am neither white nor Asian, but I am also both. In that way, I fall into the lineage of white superiority and model minority expectations for Asian people.

White people have tended to gaslight me on these issues. After being made uncomfortable by my reaction to something ignorant they said, I typically experience some passive aggression or outright confrontation. Since I appear light-skinned enough to "be on their side," it's implied that I shouldn't complain. For all the idealistic talk of a post-racial future reached once everyone has offspring crossing racial boundaries, it seems like nobody can imagine what a world like that would be. If the only thing we can do to mixed-race people once they arrive is placing them on the spectrum of how white they are, I don't see how that's progress.

On the opposite end, Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color have usually been (at least initially) apprehensive towards me. I think I am seen as an untrustworthy sheep in wolf's clothing. I might not be entirely white, but I'm wearing enough of the uniform. Add on the history of apathy or comparable oppression from the Asian communities of America toward BIPOC in America. I can't fault anyone for having this kind of apprehension.

Anti-racist self-work requires emotional intelligence and patience to navigate these reactions and take a step back. It can be hard to realize if you are the one making an unfair judgment call or if someone is aggravating you.

With all that being said, it is essential to consider the facts. Other mixed-race white-passing people and I must remember that being othered isn't oppression. Reverse racism isn't real because it presumes that the same injustices are happening equally to everyone. What is the cost to my well-being if I am othered? With all of the emotional stress I feel when people either exoticize or fetishize my identity, there isn't much real physical danger. Is there a risk of personal harm to me from forces of aggression based on presumptions of my racial background? Such as those perpetrated by white supremacist police officers on Black people in America?

No, there is only minimal damage potential to me. I have never been harassed by police, stopped in the street for walking, been pulled over while driving. In most situations, I am free to take issues of racial injustices and examine them as debate club topics. In the past, I would play devil's advocate with these issues with no personal experience, the lack of experience being precisely the reason why I can no longer allow myself to do that. Some things aren't up for debate, and treating them like they are is counterproductive to an anti-racism effort. Moving forward, I intend to work on knowing who I am in terms of my privilege and ethnic background, using what I can to break down the established unjust social order.

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