If you have to start your sentence with “I’m not a racist but…” “I don’t mean to come off racist but…” or “this might sound racist but…” or any variation of those, you are not only about the say something totally racist, but you are, in fact, a racist. The third one is my favorite of all time. No, sweetie, you don’t “sound” racist, you are racist. There, I said it; I put it out in the world. Don’t be a racist douche and I won’t be forced to call you a racist douche.
What has brought this on is, of course, the reaction to Miss America that the general public had this past weekend. It both saddens me, and, even more sadly, doesn’t surprise me.
In an age when many would like us to believe that we are a progressive nation full of forward thinkers, I have often found us to not be so. I’m not saying, or discrediting, those who are truly forward thinking. There are those who truly want us to be an equal nation, regardless of race, sex or creed. But, those who crow loudest, are usually the bigots, not the champions of equality.
I don’t watch Miss America. Beauty pageants aren’t my thing. I can barely apply lip gloss, let alone walk in heels in a two piece in front of a crowd. But I was so disgusted to wake up to the tremor rippling through social media on Monday morning. I was disheartened to see that this beautiful woman is having her thunder stolen from a truly gracious win, because she isn’t white.
I’m not white.
Well, I’m part white.
But what it comes down to is that I have been in her shoes. I have been accused of being a foreigner. I have been asked, “Where are you from originally?” I have been told that I am not a “real” American. But unlike a beauty queen, I don’t have much in the way of social graces when confronted with that sort of baseless racism.
I don’t feel that being proud of of my Asian heritage and being an American are mutually exclusive. I don’t think that I should give up sushi to prove that I am American. The last time my family was felt the need to give up something to prove how American they were, was when they stopped speaking Japanese all together… After being placed in the interment camps.
They were also accused of not being “real” Americans, in spite of a number of my family members having been born here.
I do not take kindly to people saying that because, somewhere down the line, my family immigrated here, that that somehow makes me less of a patriot, less proud to be a part of this great nation, or less American than the blonde girl I’m sitting next too. And I think it sheds a rather terrible light on the people of this nation, when someone who isn’t white, is automatically pegged as a terrorist, foreigner, or not worthy.
My favorite reply to people, when I have to have the “where are you from” conversation is, “I’m from Washington.” They usually say, “No, originally.” And I say, “Uhm, well, I’m ORIGINALLY from Washington state. Not DC, though I know it’s confusing.” Most people mumble and walk away.
You’d be hard pressed to find many people who live here being able to say they are “from” America in the same sense that I am accused of not being from here, or that Miss America is being accused of not being from here. Nearly everyone in this great country comes from a family of immigrants, no matter how far back you have to go. So, to accuse me of not being a “real” American simply because I have yellow skin and black hair is absurd… and moronic.
I am mixed. I am half white and half Japanese. I am not half American.
And I support our Miss American. I am proud to be represented by such an amazing woman. And I congratulate her on winning the honor of being our newest Miss American.