But let’s talk about freedom, because freedom, despite its holiness, is not always right or perfect or beautiful.
So I am slowly redefining, to myself, the type of love that is necessary to exist in this country. I want love that creates language rather than erases it.
I cannot separate the rise in crime rates, the formation of a carjacking ring, and the historical prevalence of car theft in Essex County from the classed inequality, distrust, and denial that characterizes my home in my memory.
Until our artistic culture changes from one of erasure, suppression, and tokenism to a space where complex identities, racial politics, and cultural histories both problematic and uplifting can be explored and engaged freely, we will not keep our peace.
In some ways, Harvard has reminded me of that burdensome, overbearing youth that shaped my conception of racial identity, because what struck me most when I arrived was the same hollow lack of non-youth.
But we cannot ignore the forces that may drive an interracial relationship: the tendency to fetishize and the desire to be accepted, the integration of stereotypes into illusion and the adoption of whiteness as ideal.
Things are gorgeous if they’re yours, dull if they aren’t. Home isn’t the boxes in it, nor even the people. It’s the place that grew with you, that formed you before you formed it.
Your yellowness was not what you believed it was. It was not and had never been timidity or ineloquence, inability or servitude. Instead, it was your own unwillingness to look at yourself.
But in all my confidence that privilege would fall, I had forgotten about blood, how it could leave a country in coma. My thoughts were abstracted because I was removed.
The girls’ pain was so loud it felt fake, like Taylor Swift songs and Tumblr. I wasn’t used to a hurt that dissolved, motionless. The hurt I knew about was so busy you could barely see it through the music.
I always, in some way, knew I was a spokesperson or representative for my race and gender. But I didn’t know there was an ethic to it.
Once I told a friend that kissing someone feels like a surrender, and he told me sometimes kissing is just kissing.
How do you reconcile the people in your head with the people in your life, the people of your memory with those of your present? What does it mean, to be interesting enough to have your own story?
What does it mean for a race if its two genders do not and cannot get along? How can you love yourself when you are told to be disgusted by those who look like you? How can you, as a yellow American female, be viewed as strong when your male counterpart is viewed as weak?
To see yellow in America is to re-understand racial realities not through the simple oppressed-oppressor lens but through something more multi-faceted.