It’s been a tough few months for me to thrive and keep my optimism–something I try to do so I can stay healthy. But Trump and his administration’s attempts at dismantling the rights of women, people of color, LGBT, environment and access to affordable healthcare makes it extremely hard–especially the last one since I qualify for the ACA. I’ve tried not to blog about politics but, this past weekend makes want to speak out.
Trump’s crazy flip flop response to what happened in Charlottesville, VA over the weekend makes me remember an incident of racism that happened to me a few years back. It was shocking because it was so blatant and that it occurred on Mills Campus in Oakland a liberal arts college known for its diversity.
It happened at the Littlefield concert hall lobby where a reception was being held after a concert performance. My friend had gone to the bathroom and I was approached by an white man in his 50’s who said to my face with a smile, “You know they don’t allow Asians in here.” I was in shock. I was scared. I walked away without saying anything.
It is at a safe distance that I feel my anger take a hold of me. I am observing him across the room when my friend returns from the bathroom. Immediately, she asks me what is wrong as I am visibly upset. I tell her what happened and point him out to her. He notices that we are discussing him and chooses to walk up to me a second time. He says that he was just trying to make a joke to start a conversation—as if opening with a racist statement like that is a perfectly fine way to approach a woman of color you’ve never met.
My anger turns to rage and I say angrily that what he said was racist and not okay. He starts to defend himself as not being a racist and I tell him that he needs to leave immediately, or I would call the campus police. He looks at me and my friend and decides to take me seriously and exits. To make sure he is really leaving campus I follow him out the door.
This is not the first time I feel powerless and invisible and that there is no justice to be had. Maybe that’s why when I spot one of the campus police carts drive by, I start yelling, “stop that man!” He breaks into a run and I chase after him pointing him out as the cart swerves in my direction.
The campus police catches up to him and he is detained quickly. Within a few minutes another campus police woman shows up to take down my story.
By now, his friends who had come with him have caught up to us. They look worried for their friend. One of them, a young blonde woman says imploringly to me that she believes me that he would say something like that but, she knows him and wants me to know that he’s really not racist.
It was a surreal experience: a man who is clearly racist doesn’t actually believes he did anything wrong and his friends who are trying to convince me that unprovoked racist statements does not make someone a racist!? The illogic of this makes me laugh now because I see this kind of reasoning in the headlines every day.
The campus police wants to know if I want to call the Oakland police and I said yes. At this, the man starts to walk menacingly towards me. He is a good foot taller than me. He says to me , “You really don’t want to do that,” in a tone that insinuated that bad things would happen if I were to keep on this track. The woman who took my statement sees this and steps in-between the two of us and tells him to back off. He does but, continues to try and intimidate me with his glare.
Not only is this man racist, he is a bully too. And if I am being kind, not quite right in his head. The good news is that this man is not the president of the United States. But then again, he might as well be.