There is no escape. Is there?
This is the first real entry I’ve written in a couple of years. I just didn’t feel the need to … display. I rarely do. I do. But rarely.
I have been living in Seoul for 1 month, yesterday. Overall, I like it. I am still … frazzled. I have a lot of energy and curiosity and nerve but I am still tied to my old ways. Ive found that in living in another country, you as a person, don’t change. You are just made to encounter different aspects of who you are. Some are amplified, other parts are rendered useless. What is useless to me in Seoul? Doubt. I could doubt people and situations in NY because I knew what to expect and who to expect it from. I had observed almost 30 years of patterned behaviour. You think that would breed certainty but no, merely an ever increasing doubt. It became nauseating. It was like Groundhog Day the movie. Everyone played their parts and went through the motions. They always mistook me for a participant. But I learned what was behind the smiles. A bit late, yes, but better late than never. And so, I began to doubt them. I disbelieved them and followed my instincts, which were always proven true. But I hated the doubt. I just needed to be unsure of the right thing for once. The doubt others inspired in me was superficial. On the surface, it seemed like something new but underneath …I’m sure it’s the same. I don’t want to presume. I’ll withhold judgement and give you the benefit of the doubt, even though my gut is telling me that I don’t like your eyes. That there is something around you that seems off. That seems alike with all the ones before.
Here, it is useless to doubt. What would I base that on? I have no clue what you’re fucking saying let alone what you are thinking. Everything ACTUALLY IS NEW. I am unsure, yet it is not superficial. I legitimately have no clue what to expect. And it’s because one day I got on a plane. After years of waking up to see that it is once again 4/1, waking up in Seoul was like waking up and seeing that today is 4/2. It’s like oh shit! Now what? WHAT THE FUCK DO I DO?? I am the kind of person who needs that feeling.
It’s funny that I, who always gets shit for being different than everyone else, has found comfort living in a conformist society. Here, you are not supposed to be different or look different or think differently. And there is a great deal of emphasis on the superficial. But…I don’t know. There are always individuals. In any society, we grapple with what we are told to want and value and what we innately value and how that shapes our personal tastes. For most, they alter the latter to fit the former but there are just some that don’t bother. And those are the ones who meet me for the first time and know that they know nothing but what they see. And are not content with that. People like that are scarce everywhere and yes there are people here who think they know who I am without knowing a goddamn thing. But the big difference is, there are a bunch of people who don’t. So you just seek. Keep it moving. Tell the shitty people “Yeah, bye.” and ease on down the road. In NY, especially as a Black person, there is NO WAY to escape people who think they know who you are. No matter what is on the surface, they think they know you and that “you people” are “all the same”. Even other Black people! If you are Black in that country and have a brain and a heart, god help you. I felt both shrinking from disuse/abuse/neglect so I got the FUCK out of there.
I ask my mother all the time why she just doesn’t leave. All the shit that White people have done to her and how difficult they still try and make things for her just because she is an African woman with pride and a heart and a brain and oh yeah a mouth (it’s inherited, lol). But she doesn’t want to. Immigrants are different. They have a different mindset that I will never fully understand. I have immigrated 2x in my life but I was young, single and spoke fluent English with an American accent. I appear Westernized. I have seen the shit that even other Africans who don’t have those traits are subjected to. I do have “Western privilege”. I remember waiting at Immigration in Germany. I was lucky enough to get people who were having a good day or were hungry and needed to go to lunch or something but getting my Visa was so quick and easy. But I saw other Africans who who spoke English with an accent of African origin and some were wearing traditional clothes. The same people who smiled at me treated them like shit. With no respect. Like they were lower than dogs.
It’s like I “pass” but I don’t want to fucking pass. I hate those people who smile at me then put down other people WHO ARE EXACTLY LIKE ME. But I “talk different” or “dress different”. In a way that you view as similar to you. In a way that you falsely and narcissistically assume is solely for your own benefit. They always figured out I was different in the end. Because they always fucking tried shit then I had to bitchsmack a ho to let ’em know that they are mistaken, because I am NOT THAT NEGRO, BYE.
But I was just reading about Mr. Floyd Dent and the piece of shit with a badge that nearly killed him: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2015/03/26/1373429/-Why-is-William-Bill-Robocop-Melendez-still-a-police-officer and I am sitting here with no Black people around for a few miles and thinking, “What have I escaped?” Martese Johnson … the guy was an Honor student who wears fucking bowties. You know that shit makes White people mad. Everything seems to make White people mad. So they just beat the shit out of everyone and kill everyone else and fly fucking planes into mountains. (Aside: How much you wanna bet White men won’t be closely searched and surveilled at airports as an “anti-terrorist precautionary measure”.)
What have I escaped now that these things don’t happen to me because I don’t live in an anti-Black culture anymore? There is rampant anti-Blackness in contemporary Korean culture but it is not a product of their culture nor do they depend on anti-Blackness for a sense of their cultural identity as a whole. Anti-Blackness in Asia is a European/American import. There are plenty of people who can feel proudly Korean without hating or feeling superior to Black people while “White Pride” and Anti-Blackness are inextricably linked. This doesn’t mean that anti-Black Asian people should not be held responsible for their racism. Fuck them too. Nobody can convince you to hate or demean someone else unless you are the type of person who is shitty and dumb enough to do those things in the first place. There is no “context” or history lesson needed to know that racial slurs and Blackface and things of that nature are wrong. I didn’t grow up with a ton of Asian friends but when I would see that yellowface/asexual-Asian-guy-as-punchline/Asian female fetishism shit growing up in America my knee-jerk reaction was “wtf?…that’s fucked up” because that shit just looks wrong. I didn’t have to walk up and down Canal St. and take a goddamn survey.
I am also not saying that Black people don’t experience racism in Asia either. I am saying, however, that I have been here for 31 days and I have not experienced any overt racism. I’ve experienced that many old Korean people are mad aggressive. But maybe that 아저씨 snapped at me on the subway escalator because he’s just an asshole. Could be. Idunno. But the fact is, who cares? It didn’t affect my life. It didn’t keep me out of a job or stop me from renting an apartment from my super helpful, non-aggressive old Korean landlord/landlady or give my kids’ all-Black school less funding than any other school in the district or punch me 16 times in the face and break my orbital bone or hogtie me and leave me in a hospital driveway as my brain bled me to death or shoot me 20 times for WALKING FORWARD SLOWLY after a car wreck or KNOCKING ON THEIR DOOR after a car wreck or drag me behind a truck at 90mph or lynch me or burn down my economically independent all-Black town out of jealousy/resentment or shoot my unarmed child in a stairway/in a gated community/in a park DO YOU SEE WHERE I’M GOING WITH THIS?
In Seoul, as far as I can tell, racist people are just idiots with an opinion. You don’t like Black people? So? Bye. You wanna talk shit about Black people? Well I can’t understand it. Bye. You won’t hire Black people? Well there is another place who will. I guarantee it. Here, if you happen to experience racism, first off, it’s hard to be sure because people here legit won’t like/hire you/be polite to you for a million other looks/education/class based reasons. But, if you do, there are just other options here. There are other people. There are other situations. So if you don’t like something/someone/somewhere, go someplace else with someone else and do something else *shrugs*. No place is a utopia and unfortunately there is nowhere on earth that you can go to escape anti-Black sentiment (thanks for spreadin’ that White Supremacy worldwide and earnin’ that El Diablo Blanco title White people!!) but I can honestly say there has NEVER been a 31 day stretch of time in the U.S. or Germany where I didn’t face even 1 instance of discrimination/overt racism. Frankly, the only racism/sexism I’ve faced in Seoul since I’ve been here was from a White guy. Stay doin’ the most, Whitey!!
Anyway, I just wanted to ruminate aloud (or ablog) about my experiences so far. I honestly don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve always been a planning and structure based youth and I have a need for that in my nature but I also give no fucks and do what I want YOU DON’T OWN ME yadda yadda so sometimes I just end up doing things that seem thought out to me but other people are like “What? Uzbekistan? Oh ok send me your new number *sigh*.” As I grow older I honestly could not care less. It’s just exhausting to care all the time, isn’t it? You shouldn’t have to fight for what you deserve. As a Black woman, that’s pretty much our day to day way of life. But it shouldn’t be. I’m not going to fight you to get you to treat me like a person. If you don’t want to do that automatically? Bye.
I think on my gravestone, it will just read “Bye, bitch. Lol” That is my new life motto. I intend to live a life so full that even in death, I will give about -3 entire fucks of a damn about anything. To me, that is truly resting in peace.
So in conclusion, I’m going to the gym. You can find super cheap ones here. So now I guess I will get buff. Stay tuned for the “Meant to Be” music video (BET after dark booty shorts edition.) Ahhh record deal, here I come!