Even before the election, I worried about the repercussions of electing Trump and the racism and meanness that would follow. I worried on a personal level. I’m half Korean, half Irish and I’ve been mistaken for other minorities including Mexican and Phillipino. Everyone tried to assure me that I had nothing to worry about. Then the day after the election, my fears came true.
Exhausted from staying awake late watching election results, I treated myself to a $5 coffee. A large Caucasian family of three stood in front of me in the line.
The family decided to try to intimidate me with their stares and body language. Then they laughed about something and I heard the word, “Trump.” I couldn’t believe it. My fears had come true. The election results had mean, racists bigots everywhere coming out of the woodwork and behaving terribly. I was afraid.
I was afraid to go anywhere for a few days. I worried that next time I encountered racists, it would escalate to violence. I didn’t feel safe anywhere and I live in a Blue state. All the Caucasian people I knew apologized on the family’s behalf.
Then at some point in one of my conversations, I remembered a girl that was really mean to me and what happened. I felt calmer. I realized this was almost exactly the same because racism and meanness are the same thing.
I was going to school, working at a fast food place to cover living expenses. My sister hired me but left right afterwards and I thought I would never work with her. Then came an opportunity to work some extra hours but I had to work at the downtown Seattle waterfront store, the store my sister managed.
I needed the money, so I volunteered. As soon as I arrived crew members were asking my sister and I whether I was her “sistah” or really her sister. My sister explained over and over again that I really was her sister. To make sure that no one would think she was playing favorites, she ordered this girl to supervise me while I performed the worst jobs in the restaurant. The store had lines going out the door so I doubt anyone would have noticed what I was doing.
In any event, every word that came out of my supervisor’s mouth was mean. As she browbeat me over changing the trash bags, a homeless guy approached her and said, “Hey, I didn’t get my coffee. I was supposed to get coffee with my order!”
My supervisor pointed and replied,”You’ll have to go back in line then.”
“Are you kidding me?” shouted the homeless guy. “I’m not getting back in line, look at it!”
My supervisor sighed and went to get him a cup of coffee. The homeless guy smiled as he watched her walk away then said, “Look, I really didn’t get coffee. That girl was so mean to you, I just had to say something to get her away from you.”
That’s the thing. People notice meanness. Meanness gets you scurrying around getting a cup of coffee for a homeless person. Being racist and mean didn’t help that family. It didn’t solve any of their problems or transform them into beautiful people. In the end, they gained nothing. They gained nothing because even though they made me afraid, I got over it and I am now a stronger person. So in the end, it had the opposite effect of what their intentions were.
This is a message to all you racists out there feeling emboldened by the election results. Taking your frustrations out on minorities isn’t going to solve your problems and make your life better. It will only make the people you try to intimidate stronger. Instead of focusing on other people, focus on yourself and start fixing your problems, then maybe your life will get better.