A couple of years ago, a Caucasian male about five years my senior advised me that my feminist concerns were "dated" and that the computer industry had advanced beyond the racist and sexist mindset. His words came from his experiences, described from the eyes of an attractive, likely wealthy male in his 30s or 40s. I'd just been chatted up about a managerial future by my then-manager, and I emailed this former classmate to discuss the potential for sexism and racism in management. At the time, he was in a management role with an IT organization, from what I recall. I took his advice and carried onward to discover that my fears were, in fact, relevant and current. For example, my management punished me for emotion expression after they told me to tolerate the same behavior from a male coworker. As I push through years in various professional roles, I discover that IT management is indeed mostly Caucasian, often male. Simply by biology and life experience, they will not see the same perspectives as... say, a female non-white immigrant who speaks English with an accent. The computer culture can be exremely individualistic and indirect with communication about emotions. Denial may loom large, memory short. This is business as a whole, really. This is capitalism, money as leader, white privilege. It is a society run by mostly men in positions of power nearly everywhere: the computer world, politics, science.
I hear many people and facets of modern media dismiss feminist or collective ideas as unnecessary or extreme. These perspectives joke about poverty and mental health with the tenor of disconnected and unaware. They might cut close to your car on the highway or play aggressive and hurtful games with love and trust. Insensitive, maybe cruel in deniable ways, prick by prick, little by little. For the lot of us who experienced neglect or abuse as children, we might have a difficult time with memory and sense of place in the world because of its emotional complexity. This can be complicated with other traumatic life experiences, such as divorce and early abrupt sibling departures. For children of Asian immigrants, it is likely to mean that we experience(d) the ramifications of war, sometimes two or three generations later. Evelyn Lee presents this dynamic in her articles and observations about Asian-American mental health. We see with the eyes of a bloodline that contains previous home countries. By mainstream standards, I look non-American. This means I do not look white. People sometimes say, "It's what's on the inside that counts," and a tiny part of me cringes. This idea leaves silent the explicit ways in which larger society screams that it's what's outside that matters: appearance, level of wealth, age, ability to express an idea in a certain way (fast, straight-faced, without emotion, educated, with perfect grammar, with a non-specific accent).
On the whole, it's useful to keep belief that we're all doing the best we can. When I first heard someone say that idea to me, I didn't really believe it. As time goes on, I observe that people in my spheres are in their own spheres. Which is to say, each of us faces life with a past and a future; joys, sorrows, hopes, dreams, regrets. Let's enjoy some of our days with deep breaths and a clear sense of belonging. The ones who hurt us were likely hurt by others. This doesn't make it ok that they hurt us, but it offers the balance that pain begets pain. Create space that contains both and/or. Settle your mind in action, respect, and meditative gratitude. This life is ours to breathe.
Well hello there.