Guest Contributor Janet Lee
This is hard for me to write. I have avoided engaging too much with this election since my trend-reading and predictions skewed very wrong for half of the nominees. I have been able to predict political trends well previously, and was just completely wrong in my underestimation of a candidate. Then again, so was Nate Silver, so perhaps I am in good company. I was also wrong by overestimating the kindness of the country. That overestimation, of decency, love, and understanding, is the reason I am writing this.
Let me get this out of the way; I am using a pseudonym. I have a family that I wish to protect and cannot speak my mind safely on the Internet in light of recent events. That being said, I am an Asian woman who was adopted into a white, middle class family in a suburban area from infancy. I am Asian only in genetics, and have marginal connections to any Asian culture or heritage, but respect that it is very much a part of who I am. I am American. I am a citizen. I care about this country. I want good things to happen for America and Americans. I have a Masters degree, a career, and am raising a family. Some people would call me whatever the new term is for millennial yuppies. I am everything the middle class of America is, and for the first time, I am scared of what the future holds for my family.
My daughter, not yet a pre-schooler, could inherit a dangerous world. Let me speak about race. I am concerned that since she is mixed race, and a female, that the rhetoric of the country will not be kind. I see it turning slowly, between the way Twitter users can turn on former friends, the way race is a political game, and the way the country has people gaining media attention that spout crude and derogatory phrases casually and frequently. The Internet is quick to label people by whatever is convenient to the narrative, the most sensational, or the most inflammatory. People will speak about and to others online in ways you would never expect or hope to hear. Hateful speech is now mainstreamed, and the era of decency seems to have passed us by. We must change this now before it becomes worse. Silently accepting this is not a choice anymore. This is not an Asian or a mixed race problem, but it is a decency problem that is leaching into the lives of many citizens. Whenever anyone does not match the selected vision of the American citizen, they can become a target.
As a result of being mixed race, my daughter will face struggles from two different perspectives. One because she is not one hundred percent white, thereby reducing her entirely to being of Asian descent and negating her personality or experiences. The other being the dreaded “other” box on forms, forcing her to accept the non-normalized mixed race status of otherdom or picking the side she would rather be. I worry that she will be forced to face racism, something that I rarely had to do growing up, sexism, as is still too often the case, and the worst – the intersection of the two. I am afraid for what my daughter will face if we normalize this rhetoric and behavior, and I am afraid for our family.
I have always believed in America and its citizens’ kindness towards others, and I have to believe that we can change the trajectory of this election. We need to in order to move forward and accept the people who are Americans. We cannot be mired in cruelty or we breed fear in citizens, nor can we just silently and passively accept this as normal. I have hope that this election is a referendum on more than just branding. However, until a change happens, that seed of fear and doubt will linger as I raise my daughter.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.