When I was in high school I wrote an opinion piece in the school paper. It was addressing the poor treatment and hostility that I observed from white students at SE Asian students. Vietnamese and Cambodian immigrants had come to West Seattle, and there were clashes. I watched as jocks, would snidely say, “Love me long time” to Vietnamese girls in the halls, and assault the boys.
I wrote about the unfairness of this, and asked the student body to put themselves in their shoes, I pleaded for them to recognize the immigrant students’ humanity. I didn’t think much about it afterwards. My journalism teacher submitted it for an award, and it didn’t win anything and I forgot about it.
Except – one day a teacher or…teacher’s assistant maybe? Stopped me when I was out around the portables. She read the piece, and told me in utmost confidence, that the treatment that I had described was the same among adults. That the white teachers were also derisive towards them.
I was naive, and I was shocked. The teachers were adults and were supposed to be better than that. That’s just one way that I became startled awake to the racism that pervades our society. That fear and loathing isn’t contained in adolescence alone.