a student-run publication that seeks to provide space for voices that are not being heard on our campus. we are grounded by politics that are radical, anti-racist, anti-sexist, anti-classist, anti-homophobic, anti-ableist, and anti-transphobic (against all forms of oppression) and that reject the structural neo-liberal paradigm that characterizes middlebury college and its official publications
By Julie Huynh
When I was younger, I had to defend my parents’ decision to not show up to the parent teacher conference.
When I was younger, I had to defend the food that my parents packed as my lunch.
When I was younger, I had to defend my parents’ use of traditional medicine.
When I was younger, I had to defend my parents.
Yet, here I am, matriculated to Middlebury, disappointed and frustrated, still defending my parents.
Middlebury was supposed to be my escape – my acceptance letter as my relief. Now that I am here, I am sick of it. At Middlebury where white comfort is prioritized above everything else, I defend my existence more than ever. I am not a “person of color” study subject to you. My time should not be subject to your ego. Pronouncing two words in my language should not be your party trick. Taking one semester of Chinese or Japanese does not entitle you to talk about Asian culture as if you are now an expert on it. Majoring in it does not entitle you to talk over the people who have lived the stories that you studied, as if your four years of studies somehow equal my life experiences. We are not and will never be on equal terms.
You, who are an outsider to my culture, once told me “it’s so jarring to hear you say white person because I’ve never heard that where I live.” You, who are a respected professor beloved by many on this campus, somehow insinuated that poor people deserves to be poor while you joyfully tap your $40 fountain pen and express your distaste for people who don’t pursue Ph.D.’s. You, who specialized in political science for your doctorate degree, vent about the “harmful” stereotypes that you faced while vacationing in China – and that this is how minorities in America must be feeling. You, who are a regular patron to Chinese take out, joke about “child labor” at those exact same family-owned restaurants. You, who rave about expensive Parisian food as a mark of your refined taste, scorn those same Chinese menus that are over $10 and mutter under your breath about the lack of Asian work ethic. You, who fetishize Asian girlfriends and boyfriends, claim that you are an ally. You, who sit in the dining hall, haughtily declare “I have Asian friends,” as if that entitles you to more power in discourses on race and culture. You, who view the advances of the West as proof that European culture is superior, aggressively ignore the history of exploitation that still continue today of these countries where my people labor in sweatshops. You, who are my fellow classmate, champion the experiences of minorities as I sit next to you in disbelief, as if you had any idea what it’s like to be questioned, to defend your identity every single day on this campus. And you, who walked with me from class everyday, complained to me, “I never asked for this white privilege” – but what I heard was that your feelings of being “victimized” for being hand-fed with a silver spoon from birth are worth more than my parents who developed health problems from working three jobs for every three hours of sleep they get; that your feelings are worth more than the people of my skin color being the target of your accent jokes and of Hollywood stereotypes and tokenism; that your feelings are worth more than the victim of hate crimes who are being beaten with a baseball bat while being screamed at, “It’s because of you little motherfuckers that we’re out of work!” referring to U.S. jobs being lost to Japan while the Chinese man bled to death the night before his wedding day.
But somehow, you still dare to look at me in the eyes, ignorant of the hurt you’ve caused, telling me over and over that you are not racist, as if you’ve done your part for the people of color so that you can sleep better at night.
“All Asians look the same. That’s why I can’t tell you guys apart. It’s just a joke, get over it.”
“Where are you from? No, where are you really from? Okay, so where are your parents from?”
“But I’m not racist.”
“I wish I didn’t have to be so PC here. It’s annoying. I just want to joke about race like I do at home with my friends and it’s fine because they know I don’t mean it, you know? It’s just funny.”
“Do you Asians really eat dogs?”
“I’m not racist though.”
“I totally sympathize with the Asian minority myth.”
“I’m NOT racist.”
“Why can’t you read in your own language?”
“But you don’t count as an American.”
“I was NOT being racist.”
“You’re Asian; you’re supposed to good at math.”
“Be grateful that we invaded your country.”
“You sound really angry; I wasn’t even being racist.”
Do not talk to me as if you have shared my experiences, my hurt, my pain of being alive.
When I was 7, my career of being a translator started.
Do not talk to me as if you understand my experiences, my hurt, my pain of being alive.
When I was 16, I was told by a white boy that it’s a pity that I would never make it to college as he explained how his family have already donated several times to his college of choice.
Do not talk to me as if you can even empathize my experiences, my hurt, my pain of being alive.
Now that I’m 19, I am being taught that they will never listen – only champion my experiences as it is the latest trend to do.
For all of you allies, the people who are “woke”, listen.
It would be revolutionary if you would just listen.