Embracing being the outsider (drafting)

Doing a bit of writing and reflection on the last night of the Obama presidency. Will likely polish this to post on Medium at some point.

Normally after work on a Thursday, I’d probably be out kicking back a few with my co-workers. Not in the mood today. Privately saying goodbye this golden age in America. I have been lucky enough to get my small slice of the American dream.

I’d adding another resolution this year for me. I think I’m entitled to one given that Lunar New Year is coming up next week.

I’m going to, perhaps finally, embrace being the outsider.

This partially just has to do with my own disposition and faults as a human. I know a lot of people, but I’m close to few. I’m one of the few women and few women of color in a more senior role at work, always reminding myself to keep my guard up, and making sure I don’t stop code switching. I find myself in these situations in my life constantly, perhaps I create this reality for myself because I don’t know how else but to be an outsider, in a long line of American outsiders.

As a Taiwanese-American who still dreams in another language, I do feel like a cultural alien sometimes. I’m Taiwanese by blood and diasporic ties – but I don’t live there – I’m not really Taiwanese, and I’m not the same as Americans whose families have been here for generations, even other Asians.

Maybe it gives me a perspective in the way I look at America, Taiwan, and the rest of the world for that matter in the way a best friend looks at you, who loves you but can see your strengths and flaws better than you can.

To me, too many people have have taken advantage of the spoils of America on the sidelines and off the backs of the vulnerable. To have a myopic sense of optimism. To not be a responsible citizen. To not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country. To be blind to its own history.

To think that the old order of power would go quietly into the night when this nation has been built on a violent struggle for rights. The belief that racial reconciliation could have been bought on the cheap and progress was a given. For all the blame going around on losing the election, I more and more I view our current situation as an inevitable outcome. The Dems could have ran Jesus Christ as their candidate and still lost. This conflict was going to come and has to be fought.

This is not the first time the White liberal left and right have converged to reject “identity politics,” which is really just a fancy way of saying “we’re sick of you people creating discomfort in asking be treated as full human beings, even though we would never tolerate the way you are treated ourselves.” This is a latest iteration of a well-documented history. (Pick up Jeff Chang’s Who We Be for a cultural deep dive.)

For all those who refuse the recognize that that America’s greatest strengths are its greatest weaknesses. For those who thought it was a choice of a lesser of two evils or refusing to vote, to not be “political.” For all those who were free riders in the system. For those who could live without the consequences of reality, regardless of which side of the partisan fence you sat on. For all the hypocrisy.

Forgetting that all we have was paid for in blood. Blood by soldiers. Blood by activists. And the blood of the innocent that will continue to pay.

For the weakness in believing that kindness, love, and understanding will save the nation.

This has all come to roost, and people will now have to fight or fall. Each in their own way. I find wisdom in being the outsider, and perhaps it will be what saves me. Maybe this perspective will be useful for someone.

To me, the big story was not about the Trump voters, but the 48% who didn’t vote. To all the people who thought “Things were or are going to be okay.” This to me is uniquely American. I wonder if it’s unavoidable outcome of a people who have gone by generations of memories without collective suffering. I’ve lived a pampered life, but I have not forgotten. I carry the suffering of my people with me still, enough to know that things don’t turn alright. That an intolerant few in society can destroy the lives and freedom of everyone else.

I love America, for I have been the recipient of its gifts. It’s boundless possibility and acceptance that exists in the same vacuum as its blindness and brutality.

I am dismayed that America seems to refuse to truly love herself. We are a nation not bound by a common creed, history, ethnicity, or race. We were supposed to be held together by the bonds of affection, by our values, the love of freedom, hard work, and the pursuit of happiness. We woke up recently discovering we weren’t worshipping the same god. That type of conflict never ends in compromise or peacefully.

I can’t think of a way to end this originally, so, may the odds be ever in your favor.


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