I’m typically identified in my country and community as “Asian-American” because I’m 100% ethnically Korean (but I was born in Iowa). We have Mexican-Americans, African-Americans, and Native-Americans but rarely do we ever call white people European-Americans. What is the ramification of this?
Why not do away with these labels?
Who cares if someone is gay or straight? Religious or not? Conservative or Liberal? Poor or rich? Why not label everyone simply “human” and treat each other humanely?
A religious woman I know told me, “I love my gay son, but too bad he’s going to go to hell.” Labeling her son and categorizing him as a sinner effectively created an unnecessary distance and one I believe she could regret.
Labels are used to create differences. It’s time we emphasize how we are the same.
Here is an in-depth, research-based study on the effects of labeling people:
There’s a lot of political strife and fear going around. I keep hearing about people losing sleep over the recent events in Virginia with the supremacist groups and the death of an innocent protestor.
I offer this: Take a deep breath. Do not expect others to feel the way you do. Do not get frustrated and scared. Instead, think of one SMALL thing you can do to feel effective and do it. You’ll feel better. You might even sleep better.
Lead by example.
Show up. We need people to show up for what they believe in.
But fighting and arguing are only going to get defenses up.
And, for your insomnia, I offer this YouTube video of Byron Katie speaking with someone who feels the way you do. Trust me, you need to watch this. It’s magic.
This is not a call for passivity. You need to feel the inner peace before you can help create the peace outside of yourself.
Every green thumb gardener knows that her garden needs rich soil in order to grow bright, brilliant plants. Compost enriches soil but it is stinky and takes time to degrade and cultivate. The compost of my life’s garden (thus far) consists of (but is not limited to):
Kids taunting me with “chink” when I walked home from school
Every grade I ever received other than an “A”
my first heartbreak
the deaths of my grandparents, sister-in-law and friends
breast cancer and the six surgeries that followed
every awful job and boss I ever had
every workout that pushed me to the brink of insanity
the police officer at my high school football game who hatefully asked me if I speak English
scooter/car accident right before my wedding (I had to wear a leg brace under my wedding dress)
my mentor’s suicide
Let us not dwell on our past, but let us celebrate our survival. It is pain and loss that molds us into the strong people we are.
I’m grateful for many, many things. I have a very good life: a job I love, two healthy, beautiful children, a husband who loves me, a nice home, an affectionate dog and an enormous “wine refrigerator”.
However, I’m not 100% content. I don’t like the recent spate of racist incidents around the country (KKK). I don’t like that Asians are under represented in TV, film and books. I don’t like the fact that so many in this country (and the world) go hungry each night.
Complaining isn’t going to change anything.
Writing an amazing script, raising money and getting the independent film with Asian actors produced and shown at film festivals WILL change the scene.
Organizing a passionate, savvy group of people to pressure our legislators for gun control laws WILL save lives.
Reaching out to all the different, beautifully diverse people in my community WILL help change racial stereotypes and bring some peace.
Creating programs to help homeless people get job skills and become income earners WILL change their lives.
Inventing affordable solar panels WILL help save the environment.
What can you do today/this week/this month/this year to provide “A little more bite, and a little less bark”?
When I was a young teen, my father gathered my sister, brother and me and told us we were going to start taking Tae Kwon Do lessons. He didn’t ask what we thought about it or if we wanted to do it, he told us we were doing it. My father was an extremely strict father. Tiger Moms these days are mere kittens compared to my father back then. So we didn’t even groan or try to get out of it.
We began. The entire time, I kept wishing I was taking dance instead. But no, martial arts it was.
My sister and I were young teenage girls and we had to spar grown men and believe me, they didn’t “take it easy” on us. JoAnne and I learned to use our elbows to defend ourselves against their powerful kicks. It worked! Martial arts was big back then because of a guy named Bruce Lee.
We lived those tenets. All three of us earned 1st degree black belts.
There were no Asians in magazines back then. Or TV. Even “Kung Fu” starred a white man named David Carradine. It turns out Warner Bros. stole Bruce Lee’s concept and believed a full blooded Asian on TV wouldn’t work so they hired Mr. Carradine.
What did Bruce Lee do? He went to China and made “The Big Boss” which made him an international star.
This is what you must do when you face rejection. When you face sexism. Racism. Any kind of bigotry. Go out and be Bruce Lee. That is, embody his spirit.
Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself, do not go out and look for a successful personality and duplicate it.