by Sharon H. Chang
I'm a light-skinned mixed race Asian/white woman. I don't deny it. On my lightest day, in the deep of winter, under cover of endless Seattle clouds, I could definitely hold my arm next to some white people and almost match (though the tinting never seems quite right). Because I'm non-Black and light-skinned I am not vulnerable to police brutality, housing discrimination, hate crimes, excessive surveillance, racial bullying and assault, and the many, many forms of violent oppression acted upon visibly Brown and Black peoples every day. This is undoubtedly a privilege, one that I actively acknowledge and try to hold in constant consciousness and conscientiousness as I write about race and am involved in social justice work. My main responsibility is often going to be de-centering myself to make room for the voices of others most impacted; to listen, not lead; support and even sometimes leave spaces entirely because my presence may interrupt safety and sacredness.
And yet, these are the things that have been said to me recently by whites and people of color (POC), men and women, young and old:
What are you? Because if you had said you were white - I would've believed you.Man! How do you people do that international thing??
There is no pure Asian anymore.Excuse me, I'm sorry, but can I ask what your mix is?
You Asian? I need help with my gardening.So what do you do?Are you a flight attendant, stewardess?