These same friends are also all good people who have told me how they are outraged by racism, hurt by it, bewildered. And sometimes that’s what makes it so frustrating: how difficult it is to talk about race even with them, people I know are on my side, because the conversation inevitably becomes one about how they’re not racist, how they’re not even, when it comes down to it, white. The bulk of these conversations end with me reassuring them that I know they mean well, and then insisting as gently as I know how that if I have to be yellow, if blacks have to be blacks, and so on, then they have to be white. The truth is that they don’t realize that it is the particular privilege of the white to say they don’t “feel” white, that they’re not bound to “white” culture. And that casual dismissal, that simple, blind, unwitting privilege, always makes me angry. I understand my anger might be misplaced, unfair, ungenerous. At its deepest level, it’s probably born of envy. It’s so easy for them to casually disavow their race, as if it were a matter of personal choice. If only it were so easy for the rest of us.
Yellow Peril And The American Dream by Catherine Chung, and powerful and incisive essay about racism, white privilege, and how even the best of intentions can’t erase centuries of institutionalized prejudice. (via therumpus)
Saving this to read later — Chung’s Forgotten Country is one of the best books I read last year.