I really thought that the United States had learned a lesson about racism during 2020. I mean, we spent all summer on it. I thought we were at least past the point of arguing about whether or not racism exists, you know?
But as usual, it was incredibly naive of me to have any optimism regarding race relations in America. I simply forget, time and time again, how many people in this country have a vested interest in pretending that racism has been dead since the Civil Rights Act.
Or in this instance, a vested interest in pretending that they didn’t just sit and watch as xenophobic hostility toward Asian Americans spiraled into an uptick in racially motivated violent crimes.
I could pull out some statistics from my Criminal Justice coursework to support the argument that when a member of one race commits an act of violence against members of another race, it’s statistically improbable that the attack wasn’t racially motivated.
And I could spend a paragraph explaining why I’m so certain that all the hate crimes against Asian Americans (and Asians in America) are a direct result of the previous administration’s racist rhetoric surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.
Or I could just tell you to talk to an Asian American person and ask them if they’ve noticed racism getting worse recently.
But I’m not going to do any of that, because I’m done entertaining any argument that racism isn’t racism.
I spent most of 2020 willing to have the “tough conversations” about race: i.e. trying to reason with bigots who insist that racism is either non-existent or else completely justified, or feeling obligated to educate the well-meaning but ignorant masses who aren’t aware that racism is much more complicated than just burning a cross on someone’s front yard.
If everyone in a minority group is saying that an act was racist, then anyone outside that group arguing that it wasn’t racist is an idiot who doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Full stop. And I’ve learned my lesson about wasting my own time arguing with idiots.
Here’s what I’ve been doing instead, and I suggest you join me:
Reading/listening to what the Asian American community has to say about racism in America (courtesy of The New York Times).
And perhaps most importantly, refusing to get bogged down in the debate about “what even is a hate crime” or “but how do you KNOW it was racism” or whatever other bullshit whataboutism they’re throwing around.
Be an ally. Get on the right side of history. Show me that you were paying attention during 2020.
And get ready to dance this same dance next year, and the year after that. Because it looks like America is going to have a racial reckoning every year until we finally get our shit together, and I’m not going to fall into the trap of thinking optimistically and expecting that to happen anytime soon.