On overcoming discrimination
Addressing discrimination, having empathy, melting Antarctica, spooky crimes, and being understood.
|Steven Wakabayashi||Feb 18|| 1|
At many points in my life, I have faced discrimination as a gay Asian man.
In dating, I've been either cast aside or specifically chosen due to my race. At work, I've been in difficult circumstances and faced vitriolic remarks without any business or performance rationale. In job interviews, I've been tested in ways that my other predecessors have never had to experience.
I cannot pass as a heterosexual male, even if I tried. Not only do I look gay, but I also sound gay, and I act gay. When it comes to my race, I wear my yellow skin for all to see.
When discrimination happens, it isn't something that can be easily pointed out. There is never a "right" way to be racist or homophobic. The words "racism," "homophobia," and "discrimination" never happen in the same sentence they are projected in. And discrimination can come from anyone - republicans, religious folks, but also democrats, feminists, Asians, and queers as well.
I try to avoid sounding the alarm for "discrimination" until I have hard evidence, such as documented racist rhetorics and homophobic quips. But it is often too late to act on a situation when it has gone that far. Combating discrimination starts at the very beginning. And sometimes, it calls for being on the defense and offense.
One of the critical things to know about discrimination is that perpetrators never believe they are discriminating. They live out their lives, reinforcing their prejudice behaviors and thoughts based on select experiences.
"It seems like Asian waitresses serve me slow, so I can help them by reminding Asian waitresses."
"It seems like all of my gay friends party a lot, perhaps that is why my gay colleague looks tired during this morning's meeting."
Creating bias is all a natural part of our survival mechanism. We create patterns and associations of the world around us for safety. By trying to "figure out" someone before we have even met them, we believe that we are proactive with our lives. However, in a world with over 7.7 billion people across different cultures, ancestry, and genes, this is all a fallacy. Meeting anyone new with a blank slate would do us more justice, expanding our awareness of personality types that we have not experienced before.
Worse yet, some perpetrators aren't even aware of their own change in behaviors. They play into discrimination, favoritism, and personal bias. These individuals are completely unaware of the hurt they inflict onto others because they have not yet addressed their wounds, fears, and insecurities.
Although this piece isn't meant to excuse discriminatory behaviors (discrimination in any form is not okay), this piece intended to shine a light on the larger miscommunication that is happening.
We imagine that the more we report, the more we cancel, the more we fight back, that the perpetrators will somehow "get it." But it could not be further from the truth. These individuals are also looking for more reasons to validate their discrimination. Our voices become fodder for the prejudice we have yet to face in the future. We see this unfold in media and politics today.
So the lesson here?
To combat discrimination takes empathy and love.
As difficult as it is, the way to the future is through empathy, and genuinely understanding where people come from first before we present our ideas.
To eradicate decades of prejudice, beliefs, stereotypes, and biases is tough work. By opening up our ears, we can slowly open up our hearts for each other. Asking questions, letting people speak, and finding a middle ground to empathize with one another is the way towards equity. Even the illest intent can still be responded to with love and compassion.
By taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture, we see that almost every single human has been traumatized in one way or another. Some of us have built the tools to cope and heal, but many have not. Holding a compassionate space for empathetic exchange and loving communication is not easy, but it is vital in addressing the underlying pains and roots of discrimination.
Be vigilant in creating the space for healing.
Stay steadfast in protecting oneself.
Always come from a place of love.
This work is never easy, but together we can make a difference.
The Doomsday Glacier
Glaciologists have described Thwaites as the "most important" glacier in the world, the "riskiest" glacier, even the "doomsday" glacier.
It is massive - roughly the size of Britain.
It already accounts for 4% of world sea-level rise each year - a huge figure for a single glacier - and satellite data show that it is melting increasingly rapidly.
There is enough water locked up in it to raise world sea level by more than half a metre.
Lately, I have been watching The Outsider on HBO. It is based on Stephen King's novel, The Outsider, following a crime that deals with the supernatural. Fantastic reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and the acting is pretty impressive.
Quote I'm Pondering
"Seek first to understand, then to be understood." - Stephen Covey
As always, thanks for reading!
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Have a beautiful day!