2020, Did You Forget Your Meds?
Yes, laugh all you want. The title is supposed to make you laugh. PLEASE...laugh. I think as a collective, planet Earth needs a good giggle and one heck of a vacation. (Also, in case that judgey-wudgy-bear is out, I know medication is helpful and it isn't something to joke about. I'm on an anti-anxiety med and whether it is actually doing something on its own, I know that my medication along with therapy has helped me tremendously...that and me actually wanting to be a better, kinder human and putting in the work to do so)
A N Y W A Y...
What in the name of RuPaul Andre Charles is going on in the world? Seriously, does anyone know? I honestly was going to "forget" about writing anything this month, but clearly, I can't be silenced. So much is happening right now. I told a friend the other day that I honestly thought I wouldn't ever bear witness to anything of this scale. Not only are we in a pandemic, now we've got a racial situation that's breaking the camel's back. Let me re-phrase...the pot has already boiled over, the tensions have been far too-high for far-too-long-of-time, and truly that camel's been in a mud-and-stick back brace FOREVER...enough is enough. Oh--and yeah, I'm tired of wearing the germs-be-gone-mask, I haven't had a really good Eggs Benny in a VERY long time, and I don't remember what the inside of a shopping mall even looks like. (more jokes...kind-of)
I'm tired of talking about COVID-19. I have many thoughts and some might not agree with those thoughts and might think I'm a little bonkers, and that's fine. You (dear, reader) are entitled to your own opinion. Yeah, I still have fears about it, but I'm human. Who doesn't have a little bit of anxiety about COVID-19? What I'm going to go into next is not meant to make anyone feel a certain way, and if it upsets you, no one is forcing you to read this, so you don't have to read what I say anymore. Consider my feelings un-tarnished by YOUR feelings about what I have to say. Yep -- race. (OH- and please know that these feelings are my own, these thoughts are my own and if you have something to say to me about this, please write it down, read it out loud and then if it doesn't sound hurtful, then contact me--if it does sound hurtful, please fold up your response paper and throw it away, my sincerest thanks)
I don't talk about this much, in fact most of you that know me well probably hear more jokes pop out than feelings about being hurt or angry. Honestly, even as I write this I don't really feel much of anything, or maybe it's that I feel so much I can't even tell which feelings are which, and I've turned into some sort of caffeinated ball of slime (glitter slime, but still slime)
In case you haven't noticed, I'm pretty Asian. Not a "pretty" Asian--I mean I am REALLY Asian. I've talked about it...more than once. Quick refresher--I was born on the other side of the globe and was put on a plane and in the air; destination: U.S.of A. --all before I could even say, "Can I get a Xanax?" Even though I know where I come from, I still want to do one of those DNA tests just to make sure I'm 100% pure. (also a joke, kind-of)...being different and knowing I am different has always been a "thing" for me. I'm easily picked out of a crowd and I have been recognized because of my Asian-ness. I don't know if being different and knowing/understanding my differences is something that's just been an "internally known" part of me my whole life, or if it's because I was raised in a predominantly 'White' community, or maybe it's both. I honestly don't think it is one or the other, I think it is a healthy dose of both--just an innate knowing, and where I was raised.
I LOVE my tiny town and I love everyone there. I am proud to be an alumni-Plainsmen. I am grateful when I come 'home' I get welcomed by everyone and get just as many 'non-family-member' hugs as I do 'family-member' hugs. I was raised by a pretty fantastic family (if I do say so myself) and I have friends that I will have for the rest of my life because we literally grew up together. No one quite understands the "Grant bubble" like someone from Grant, and I am happy to be part of that bubble.
Yes, my community is mostly 'White'--my parents are too. My nieces and nephews are, and I often distinguish my brothers as my "White brother," and my "Asian brother." Mostly because I assume people will get confused when I show them how wildly adorable my nieces and nephews are, and I assume they will get confused as to why these adorable tiny humans I am bragging about are not Asian. --These are the thoughts that I've had to deal with a lot of my life. Also, my nieces and nephews are dang cute--wild--but so stinkin' cute. --That was a tangent I didn't really mean to get into, but this is part of it. This is part of the conversation that happens A LOT. Since I've moved to a more populated part of the state, I've felt like I need to beat new acquaintances "to the punch" by "properly" describing people in my life. I've always felt like if I make the joke first, then I beat the "closet racist" at their own game. Plus, I'm way funnier than that "closet racist," anyway. If I go anywhere--yes--anywhere that is outside of my normal routine--I automatically assume that people assume that I don't speak English. I truly don't know how to accurately convey this to a lot of people, and I'm sure reading this, some of you are thinking, "Oh Molly, you're exaggerating." I promise you with every bit of my being--I am not exaggerating. Yes, I recognize that some of that is my own assumptions, and assuming is wrong...blah blah blah. -But- unless you've walked a mile in my shoes and dealt with the situations I've dealt with, please hold your comments to yourself. (also, there aren't many people over the age of 11 that can wear my shoes--joking, kind-of)
--Deep breath-- I'm not here to tell anyone how to be better because honestly, I am trying too. Honestly, because growing up different, and not being exposed to the harsh reality that people of color, especially the Black Community—I didn’t fully understand the issue. From MY chair, I could see, “Yes, you’re different, you have different skin color, so do I. No, it definitely isn’t right you get treated differently, but there are a lot of people that probably feel that same way…” yeah—the thoughts would trail off. I’m standing up and saying, I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand until I heard the first-hand experiences. I didn’t understand until those first-hand experiences were told from people I care about. To those of you that are reading this, and these experiences were yours, please know, I am offering you my sincerest apology for being naïve.
Another nugget of honesty? Being a human in 2020 is hard...with or without medication. --I saw a tweet today from a celebrity I follow and he was commenting on someone else's post. He was giving his age at which his differences--differences that he cannot change--were pointed out. He is Black, and said he was 5 years old when his differences were made known. THAT hit me hard because I was also 5 years old. A classmate in Kindergarten asked me why my nose was flat, and to make me feel better, my babysitters came up with a funny note for me to give to him. I'm 99% sure that hand-off never happened because I was incredibly shy as a child. (Maybe that's where/when my humor seeds were planted...) Luckily, now I'm happy to report I'm still friends with said classmate and this person probably doesn't even remember asking me that.
The innocence of being in Kindergarten is a lot cuter than the sometimes-sharp words of a 7-year old. While that first story is cute and a little funny, it still has some sting to it. There's a tiny part of me, maybe it's even 5-year-old me that still has her feelings hurt a tiny bit when re-visiting that memory...7-year-old me shrinks so far down behind her desk, she wishes she could disappear. When I was 7-years-old, a classmate made me cry by telling me that, "I needed to go back to where I came from because I don't look like his kind." --I know you might be thinking--he was just a kid...and yes, he was. We both were. Children don't know something until they're taught. UNLESS you're a magical unicorn child and teach yourself things--tiny plug--if you haven't read Educated...you won't be able to put it down...or in my case, turn it off...I audiobook like a boss. --Sorry--tangent--Children--yes--children don't know what 'blue' is until you show them. Same with dogs and dinosaurs and a hot stove. (Stick a pin in this...I'll circle back)
While these two stories are just two, and fairly innocent (I'm giving the 7-Y-O the benefit of the doubt) I haven't ever been followed in a store, I haven't ever been avoided on the street (that I know of), and I haven't ever been accused of not being able to afford something while shopping...I haven't been pulled over because a cop saw an Asian woman driving...no jokes, Mother...I know how many speeding tickets I've received..yes...ticketS. I haven't had to worry about a lot of things that other races have...especially my friends that are Black. --And yes-- those are real things that I wrote above, those things are real. I know people that have been followed, I know people that have been pulled over, and I know their experiences are amplified to the N-th degree in comparison to my tiny childhood stories. I also see what's happening in Hollywood, and I believe that Parasite won awards in 2019 because the Academy wanted to show they aren't "white-washed." --I'm about to get real soap-boxy...circling back around...
Educate. Please educate your children. Educate them on racism. Teach them to see color—to see that diversity is a fantastic thing. Show them that even though I (me, Molly) look different, I still have the same muscles, my blood is red, too. Teach your children that treating everyone the same is important. Teach them that they aren't any better than someone that has dark skin or light skin. Humans are humans, and while some humans have dark skin, some have light skin, some have millions of dollars, some are superior athletes, and some don’t have anything. As a human, yes, we all deserve the kindness, respect, and love. I think It’s safe to say we all crave those things. Do we all receive them? Sadly, even though it is 2020, and you’d think as a collective, that we’ve come a long way, the truth is, even though there were changes made to our society, were those changes enough? (spoiler alert…nope)
Believe me--I am all too aware I am not a parent (yet...hopefully one day) so I probably shouldn't be gifting the internet with my brilliant knowledge...but this isn't just for the kids. While I don't have the same fears, I feel similar fears to those that Mr. Floyd felt. I feel similar fears of the people who video taped Mr. Floyd on the ground. I feel similar fears--maybe even the same fears of those that aren't Caucasian. Feeling less-than isn't fun. I honestly can't remember a time that I ever felt like I was enough. Some of you reading this might understand in one way or another, but feeling less-than because of your skin color is an anxiety that I won't ever be able to escape--and yes, I still feel it--AS AN ADULT... because you never know when an adult stranger will walk up to you in downtown Lincoln and ask you what time it is, and when you say, "umm 4:30..." you never expect to hear the ADULT stranger reply, "Oh--you speak English, I didn't expect that."
...yep, that's happened.
Humans also make mistakes--teach your children that—it doesn’t matter what color of skin you have, humans.make.mistakes. Teach the children that if they think they might offend someone racially, they might want to re-think what they were going to say. Also, shit happens—sometimes people slip up, and as an after-thought—that awful feeling of, “maybe I hurt their feelings—oh no—Please Jesus don’t let them think I’m racist…” APOLOGIZE. It’s always better to apologize, and to genuinely apologize for what was done—or what was said. My own Mother said this to us growing up, and back then it worked...but it also could have been that Donna Mayer meant serious business and we knew that. Plus, we didn't want her to "tell dad..." ...but saying, "How would that make you feel?" isn't always enough anymore. (That’s more “life” advice from the Mayer house than anything)
While this doesn’t necessarily have to deal with what I’m talking about—in a general sense, we all need to make sure the children know that repeated offenses, followed by a repeated, "sorry," isn't a proper apology—an educator once told me that if you keep saying you’re sorry for the repeated offense, you might not actually be sorry.
We all have to do better. Myself included. I know a lot of you reading this might not understand, and honestly, you probably might not ever understand, and it is okay! There’s also a chance you might not know how you can do better. I am sure you’re probably feeling it, and if you aren’t, it isn't about 'should' anymore, we MUST educate ourselves and our smaller-selves (children) about racism. One of my favorite designers has her own blog for parents on racism and children—since this is getting a little out of my rabbit hole of knowledge.
Honesty nugget: We also have to remember to be kind, to treat everyone the same, no matter what color of skin they have, no matter how big or small, no matter what their hair looks like, what kind of shoes they wear, or if they've only had one cavity. I'm not a perfect human, I haven't ever, and won't ever claim to be, I've made mistakes. I've also apologized, and like everyone, I crave respect, kindness, and love...and cake. --But, honestly, in-case past-Molly didn't get her point across clear enough, please please know -- I genuinely and sincerely apologize for any hurt I might have caused your past-you. I am, truly sorry for not knowing better then. I also am aware that a general internet apology doesn't seem all too sincere. So, for the sake of honesty, I am generalizing--a tiny bit for the blog--but more so, for the wrongs I've done that haven't been brought to my attention, so this is truly the most genuine apology I can give without any knowledge of any pain I've caused. For the wrongs I am aware of--I am truly, genuinely, sincerely, and now publicly--truly, truly remorseful for all of the hurt I've caused you.
I know better now, and I am doing my best to be better--I am still constantly working to be a better human. I have a better understanding of what the Black Community has experienced, and while I still don’t know to the fullest extent, I am doing my part to educate myself more, to listen and open my eyes further. I want you to know, sometimes I have to remind myself that the person standing in front of me has the same five senses I do, and they digest their food the same as I do. No matter what color their skin is, whether they’re male or female, gay or straight—they are craving respect, kindness, and love--just the same as I do. I am trying to be better and do better, if not for present-Molly, for future-Molly. I keep saying "I am doing this..." but it's because I can control my own actions, I cannot control yours. I can only ask -- from behind my own screen, sitting in my favorite chair--please do the same, if not for your present-self, for our future--as humans.
(If you can't see the video of The Amazing Niya Davis, let me know--girlfriend WROTE this, and SINGS IT!)