Why I write: Thoughts on Working Towards a Better Future

[Disclaimer] Do not misunderstand, I often write about White people in a negative light but I continue to do so in hopes of change and reform. If you do not act as inappropriately and show empathy, and try to be considerate for coloured people; you don’t have to feel insecure about this entry. It doesn’t apply to you and you are trying.

If you realize that you ARE acting out as I am complaining here, please try not to feel defensive and understand that all of the anger, sadness and hopelessness is created from apathy and ignorance. By listening, reading or being considerate, you can re-gain the trust of coloured people and be well loved. [Disclaimer End]

Why I write

Thoughts on the unlevelled playing field while working the fields
Written by Grandpa Dinosaur

It’s really hard for me to have optimism as a Cambodian Woman, today I couldn’t even get out of bed due to overworking myself. I never imagined such hopelessness and such depression would be so crippling. I remember my doctor’s telling me that it’s possible for stress alone to kill me and I keep myself constantly weighted to combat through rapid weight loss. There are so many things going wrong in my life, but for some reason I was just able to smile and get out of bed. Despite my constant my mantra, “I can’t find a job, I need to help support my family but I keep falling on my face,” I am able to keep going.

It’s hard no to isolate myself, but I find I have no one to really talk to who will listen and understand what I’m going through.

Most of my friends are white and all my friends that I hang out on a consistent basis, other than my co-writer, are White. I’ve slowly decided to stop talking to my White friends for a period of time because I found it to be depressing. I learned over time that when I was quiet about my sorrow, that my white “friends” had a tendency to forget that I had problems too.

When I brought a problem up that was creating thick air within our circle of friends, I was given sharp looks as if accused of making a scene. But to worsen that idea, I couldn’t even talk to white people about any my own problems and just have them listen. I was constantly levied with their everyday examples of how their lives were worse than mine, suddenly barraged by advice that was sometimes okay but usually didn’t apply to me and even given unsolicited medical advice.

I often try to pin-point where I have the most problems with White People and it usually circles around several sentences:

  1. White people not caring (not listening, ignoring and being apathetic)
  2. White people being self-absorbed (not able to come down and relate)
  3. White people choosing to warp or turn what the facts are into misinformation (denial, using the term colour blind)

But the one thing that really grates on my nerves and is my number one problem is when I try to talk to White people is when they become defensive to accusations of their privilege and subtle racism. The conversation always breaks down, even when I’m just talking in general. Probably because I’ve hit a soft spot where they haven’t realized they had yet and it hurts. Over and over, White people don’t usually have to hear complaints about their behaviour as much as coloured people do. Whenever I pass by two White adults complaining, they seem to pawn the blame off on Black children being “wild,” “trouble-making” and “disruptive”.

Every time I try to talk and clarify what is going on, I get shut down. It’s until my bitterness has become so apparent, my rage so blatant that I am taken seriously. Even then, I’m such a vision of bitterness and rage that I feel ashamed to look at myself. I want things to get better for coloured people, I try so hard and things break down that I want to cry. When I’m told I’m not trying hard, it’s so disheartening. I feel so marginalized and forgotten. I can’t explain myself (my feelings on race) properly to white people and they end up curling up in self-defense, even when I’m talking casually.

How can I even try to change things for the better when I can’t even reach out to people.

Over time I slowly I found myself changing. Becoming more withdrawn and quiet around White people, or acting out to cover the fact I was terribly uncomfortable. It was either be uncomfortable or numb from letting so many things “slide.” I had always tried to de-program the part of myself that didn’t smile for photos or smile at all, and I felt very angry at myself at becoming so dishonest and lying all the time about being happy—but really I was more mad that like White people I couldn’t say what I wanted without reproach.

I found myself becoming bitter and angry and more isolated. I found myself very upset that I constantly had to play “second banana,” as the expression would go, to other’s who got better treatment and more respect than I had in my silence. Second best. I had felt so angry to be forced to be silent. Even when I work so hard to make a life for myself, I feel like I’m being mocked.

As if I were tilling fields and fields of crops alone as my White Friends and their significant others sat on the fence, eating the produce and mocking me with the juicy fruits and vegetables I cared for long and long into the days.

I cannot feel anything but frustrated when I see the faces of those like me, in shitty “servant-like” jobs. Even though I know a lot of educated, smart, well-spoken who have a great education, but their education don’t mean shit in Canada—they have to work shitty jobs and toil all day long in order to give their children a better chance because their time is over. I remember on one occasion one of my White friends (in high school) was complaining about the fact that the government has to hire more coloured people for their police force, which displaces “more qualified white people.”

And it’s hard not to let it take it over, my own very strong will prevents me from being completely ruined as I could. I can see how easy it is to be destroyed by this mentality, I have seen many single mothers and apathetic teens in my community who have just given up. Like a silent outcry, “There is no future for us? Why do we try?”

I don’t ask for sympathy, but for empathy. One cannot hold everything inside their heart, all their love, sadness and happiness cannot be contained and was meant to be shared.

I’m trying to re-teach myself to speak up and be concise about what I want. Many who read my “articles” might find this surprising, I’m very honest trying my best to become my true and authentic self. Overtime I could feel it really depreciated my soul and I hadn’t noticed because I had remained to restrained and so silent about my own hurt by their words. And by my own hurt by my own lack of words. The silence within myself had ended up hurting me, building up anxiety within my chest.

It horrified me when I realized how often Coloured People restrained, reigned in their own feelings of hurt and disciplined themselves when speaking to White people or let things go when White people wronged them. It depreciates your soul, it dehumanizes you by not standing up for yourself, speaking your feelings and speaking what you truly think. I realized all this time from my own actions, you cannot say you are free if you are afraid of speaking your heart.

And as Elenor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Never again.

Recently I’ve been doing a lot of things to help myself out of this depression, stopped talking to my White friends for a while (most of them haven’t noticed yet, although I have been quite vocal to some), started working on my own projects as my job search continues to fail. When I write this blog I feel a lot better because I feel that I have been given back a the voice sadness that has been stolen from me, I’m allowed to feel the aches and tiredness and rage inside my body and nod and think: “I am still human.”

I will continue to write and create a space where coloured people can talk and speak freely about being suppressed and feeling helpless and I will continue to work hard to speak for the voiceless.

I hope one day the soil I toil so long into the night will bear fruit that I can eat and share.


~ by l on June 21, 2008.

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