Who are the Race Invaders?

Tim and Alok
Tim Bruhn and Alok Desai – your social justice writers

We thought it was high time that we introduce ourselves to you, our small but loyal band of readers. But writing a bio is a pain in the ass and feels weirdly self-serving. So I asked our friends over at allcomicsconsidered.com to interview us, and here’s the aftermath:

 

What is your mission and how did you come to that position?

Tim: My mission is to support, educate, and unify People of Color in social justice concerns. I came to this position after many frustrating interactions with white folks in SJ topics. I finally had an epiphany, I was spending too much energy on people who have the most access to knowledge and not nearly enough on my PoC community.

Alok: To tell the truth; dismantle systems of unequal power and status; participate in the greater awareness of the social forces which surround us. I am trying to be a person I didn’t have as a child to look up to.

 

How did you “get woke”?

Tim: Probably when I was real young. I think many PoC one day have the scenario where it dawns on you “Oh my god, I’m not white.” I remember this thought when I was in 1st grade and it sat in my stomach and my mind raced about it.

Later, also in grade school, a teacher asked about my ethnic heritage and after I told her (Korean, White, Chippewa), she said, “Well that’s great, mixed dogs are the most healthy!” I know she meant well, but it was at that moment at a tender young age, that I realized that white folks don’t get it. (You never compare an Asian to a dog unless you want a fistfight).

Alok: I suppose this presupposes that I did or that I am. It’s a judgement probably best left to others. I’ve always hated bullies and had an instinct for fairness, so I suppose that’s where it started.

What is your favorite way to engage PoC to wokeness?

Tim: I don’t have a guaranteed way to reach out and engage with PoC. What I do is write concise and sometimes quasi-poetic missives on Facebook and sometimes they get noticed and catch a small zeitgeist. I guess that’s my favorite way, when I see PoC sharing and discussing what I write to them that’s gratifying. One of the reasons why I want to start a SJ podcast is that I hope to reach a broader audience.

Alok: Sometimes I write something which seems to resonate with the people I hoped to reach. That’s a great feeling, to know that you’ve helped crystallize an idea others have worked very hard on. Those are the moments in which I most feel like I’ve contributed to the community.

 

How has your position changed over the years? How has it evolved? How has it changed you?

Tim: The most important thing that has been introduced to me over time has been the concept of “People of Color”. People of Color is a political term that allows us to imagine all non-white races to be unified in dismantling our the deeply racist power structures that oppress us. Prior to this concept, I’d look across the room and sort of think, “We probably have some things in common”, but the term provided a very useful and powerful framework.

Also meeting Alok has helped me evolve into my next form.

Alok: Studying feminism and gender issues has helped me retain focus on the ways in which I am privileged, the unearned power that I wield, and the unconscious assumptions which shape my thinking. I think it’s really important not just to focus on your own struggles but also to see the myriad ways in which you yourself can and must do better. It’s a necessary, humbling, humiliating experience.

 

What is the hardest truth you have learned?

Tim: If you advocate for social justice, you’ll definitely lose friends. Friends that you’ve known since high school will be shocked that you’ve been holding onto these thoughts that you’ve suppressed, and they’ll leave. Sad, but true.

Alok: Willful ignorance and deliberate misunderstanding may not be more powerful than the truth, but they’re a nearly-impenetrable shield. Also, racial discrimination is powerful precisely because it is externally imposed, predicated on faulty perceptions, and how people see you will often have nothing to do with who you are.

 

What is the biggest lie about race you have unlearned?

Tim: “The only race is the human race”, factual? I guess. But it fails to take in account how brown/black/red/yellow people must interact with white people.

Alok: Just because something is a construct doesn’t make it less real.

 

How do you process the transition from the ivory tower to the street?

Tim: I feel like I’m a populist writer. I take big overly wordy and drudgy scholastic works and remix them so I can digest them. Then I spit it out on page so that others can go through them too.

Alok: I’m not certain that I have. Other people are much more active than I am. This is one way in which I’m trying to change that.

 

What would you tell yourself from 5 years ago about your goals regarding race, racial awareness and working with other PoC?

Tim: Frankly, five years ago me was knee-deep in child rearing and just trying to keep all the plates spinning. I’d tell him, “Hey – you remember when you were more active in justice work? Keep your head in the game, even by reading. Here’s a reading list.”

Alok: You’re going to want to get more involved than you are, and you’re going to wish you’d started doing something sooner, so maybe start now.

 

What do you want to tell future you? Words of encouragement? A goal?

Tim: Dude. Dude. Dude. Remember: you asked for this.

Alok: Well, you’re still here, so you can’t have fucked up too bad. Unless you’re not, in which case, whoops, better luck next time.

 

What big thing about race have you found you’ve been right or wrong about all along?

Tim: Our dicks are regular sized. No. Uh.

Alok: I don’t think it’s terrifically useful to talk about “I told you so”. If you were right all along, you knew something true, so what did you do with it? If you were wrong, then you can only say that because now you know better, so what are you going to do about that?

 

What will the world look like when you are able to say “My work here is done”

Tim: I don’t really see that happening in my lifetime, frankly. Maybe I’ll say, “My work here is done” when we have Hari Kondobolu on the show.

Alok: No poem is ever finished, only abandoned.

 

2 thoughts on “Who are the Race Invaders?

  1. Tim and Alok,
    Congratulations on starting new blog.
    You have been saying, one of these days and that day has arrived.
    I wish you both a great success, lots of responses and start the awareness.
    Love Dad

    Liked by 1 person

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