Your # Isn’t a Movement

I recently came across #thisis2016 which is apparently some kind of ‘tell your own story’ about racism against Asian ethnicities. Admittedly I haven’t done in depth research on this ‘movement’ but as far as I can tell it was inspired by an editor for the New York times who, surprise-surprise, in walking among the 8 million people of New York experienced some verbal racism.

The suggestion is that others share their stories. This is the inane attention we now give to such mild experiences. If being told to ‘go back to China’ by an angry woman on the street ruins your day or is enough to anger you into starting a revolution, I have to wonder just how sheltered your life has been thus far.

It would seem that, given his extreme reaction, that this does not happen as often as the movement would suggest since he would otherwise have to spend all his time hashtagging about it.

I commented on this movement on facebook to a girl who seemed to support it and really believe in it. She was not happy when I said basically what I am saying here. She then commented that America is a country that ‘kills’ you for being different, highlighting just how exaggerated the problem had become for her.

Aside from young black men, I don’t really think there is a group of people in the United States that understands much about what it actually means to be mortally persecuted for difference. And even then, the numbers are not as impressive as the media would have you believe. In Saudi Arabia women are stoned for perceived adultery or even if they are the victims of rape. In Iran homosexuals are hanged. North Koreans cannot leave their own country and live in a constant state of inculcation.

These are real problems that require real solutions and are in fact indicative of what society at large feels about these groups.

I would argue that racial slurs at the hand of the odd pedestrian does not constitute anything abnormal when living in a large, multiracial society. When slurs, however, progress to systemic racial policy and practice, then we have a real problem. Until then, you’ve basically just been called a bad name.

My ultimate point here is that movements like these, which strive to act as a kind of wake-up call or barometer of society, fail utterly to do anything of the kind. They are not random, rather they are selected for, and they attract some of the most angry, self-righteous people; many of whom are time-privileged enough to sit around and think about how angry they are about name-calling and then make a video about it. It is like using youtube comments to gauge the frequency of profanity. Ridiculous.

A better barometer would be nation-wide polls in which people are asked what they think of Asian people or to ask Asian Americans themselves about the frequency and intensity of their experiences with racism, and whether it was at the hands of authority or just some rando.

Instead, however, we just get a bunch of self-righteous and indignant people whose worst experience is a taunt, discussing how awful it is to suffer at the hands of all these racists, many of whom don’t ever seem as frequent or present as these videos would like us to believe. Maybe because there is so much capital in victimhood in America today.







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