In response to the staggering election results in which many members of marginalized communities experienced how disconnected they were from their fellow citizens as the country elected bigotry and hatred; Black Nerd Problems put out the call to hear how people were coping. Here is a collection of short essays on what we’re doing, just to get by.
A queer man of color, the son of immigrants, and an optimist
Regarding the recent election, Junot Díaz recently penned in an open letter, “let’s be real: we always knew this shit wasn’t going to be easy.” On the real though, it’s never been fucking easy – especially for folks of color, queer communities, women, and others attuned to ideas of intersectionality. We’ve always had to fight. We’ve always had to fight. To stay focused. Breathe. Wash the tears out of our eyes… Breathe. Wash the tears out of our eyes. Pretend to forget while still remembering the spit and the dirt thrown in our faces. You know, fucking live. We’ve had to live with targets on our backs and walk out the door every day, reminding ourselves “that melanin though.” [sigh.]
Since the election, I have had to have conversations with many of my white friends, students, colleagues, and professors about Trump’s ascension to presidency and what it means to be a queer person of color in this “new world.” I’ve had to seemingly deflect or humble my anger to appropriately articulate why folks of color can’t “relax” through this term as well as defend why the personal is always fucking political – and vice versa. I have had white people in my life call me “overly sensitive” while throwing statistics and charts my way, lamenting on how poverty is the real issue at hand and most of the violence against POC are directly from other POC. One of these people is my best friend. He’s white.
As a queer person of color living in this “new normal,” I ask: where do we—the diasporic, people of color, queer, women, trans, immigrant, and others—belong in this new world?
As a queer person of color living in this “new normal,” I ask: where do we—the diasporic, people of color, queer, women, trans, immigrant, and others—belong in this new world? I mean, do we? Why do people who claim to be our allies really aren’t? Why do white folks still think they know what it’s like to be a person of color, to be queer, or to be a woman? To be at the end of a knife? Why does violence and subjugation excite people? How do I protect my nephews and nieces in a world that makes it so hard for people of color to fucking live? I don’t know if I have or will ever have answers; however, when confronted with such questions, I always return to the place where I’ve always felt my voice was strongest. To my mom and dad.
I am the son of Thai immigrants. My parents crossed the Pacific from Thailand after the Hart-Cellar Act of 1965 opened up the nation’s borders to people who would come to call the United States “home.” Their grasp of the English language was shaky, but they still came. They came for higher education, but decided on opening a Thai restaurant in the Bay Area. They settled into a pocket suburb of North Berkeley, creating a diasporic home where my sister and I were raised to the smells of curry, lemongrass, salted fish, and holy basil sifting through the air; the walls adorned with books in Thai that I have always had and still have problems reading; walls covered with tempered images of a Thai couple who left their lives, their friends, and their families back in Thailand; as well as new memories created from long hours of work, torn muscles, as well as broken dreams and promises created in this land of opportunity.
My parents, who are visibly brown, created a home in the U.S. and they struggled through. Life was never easy for them here. Violence was common and an everyday spectacle; however, we found perseverance that became a necessary and urgent practice. Medicine. Recovery. Even after hearing occasional but, at times, frequent taunts of “go home,” “beaner,” “ch*nk,” or others, they made it and persevered. They taught their children and their community that we, too, could make it.
We pushed through the veil to remind ourselves that we’ve come too far to settle for leftovers.
We pushed through the veil to remind ourselves that we’ve come too far to settle for leftovers. We came to create life from nothing. Sustainability from scraps. Life in the U.S. was never fucking easy and it will never ever be. Trust. We’ve always struggled; but, shit, we’ve always kept going forward even if hands built a wall in front of us. We’ve stood together. Through long hours and searing and discriminatory chants, we’ve held hands to create raised fists and bridges for us to cross. To see one another through and credit the work we’ve done. Our labor. To acknowledge the fire still burning inside. The spirit awoken.
We’ve seen each other through and made sure we’ve all made it home – even on those darkest and treacherous of days. Our parents and those before them saw what laid beyond the ocean’s rough tide and still they swam. Through gunfire. Through colonial warfare. Through betrayal and rape. Through xenophobia and the spit in their eyes. Through paternal law and white men’s code of conduct, respectability, sentimentality, and normalcy. They made it as we’ll make it. We’ll continue to make it. Today. Because we have to. Because we matter.
They made it as we’ll make it. We’ll continue to make it. Today. Because we have to. Because we matter.
Like you like what you just read? Read the rest of the essays we selected to be published on the site from individuals who told us what they did in terms of self care and self preservation after the results of November’s elections became known here.