Where We Are Now: June 7, 2020
Peaceful & Powerful
We have all witnessed the primal scream of our country surrounding equality and race. It’s our responsibility that we activate our commitment to race and equality and not let these passions fade away.
The protest gatherings this weekend were powerful. The shear numbers are impressive. The peaceful nature is appropriate. Here is a NY Times link to the Sky-High View of the Crowds of several peaceful and powerful US gatherings.
Robert Reffkin, CEO, Compass is both quoted and pictured in the article on the front page of NY Times Sunday Business, Corporate America Has Failed Black America. The article emphasized our personal responsibility in every way.
Along with Robert’s “boiling blood” was an observation from Robert F. Smith, private equity billionaire. The writer commented “for the first time in a long time he had reason for optimism.”
I know the conversation at each and every dinner table tonight will include this subject.
Together, let’s make sure this primal scream survives, that this movement becomes part of our personal and work fabric, and equality is job one in our communities.
This is Where We Are Now.
Mark A McLaughlin
From the Laptop of Ji Kim, Regional Finance Director – East
As an Asian American, I always knew there was segregation among ethnic backgrounds. No matter how much people try to bridge the gap, our cultural differences divide us to a certain degree. As a Korean American immigrant, I often reference my culture and roots when it comes to certain things my white friends can’t seem to understand, why I do things or say things the way I do. Because I’m Korean, I will always eat kimchi and will never be with anyone who can’t eat it – that’s a fact.
Now the dark side of race and class. Even amongst Asians, we have a certain segregation. I’m generalizing/stereotyping: Koreans and Japanese people tend to think they are better than the Chinese, American Chinese think they are better than mainland Chinese. East Asians think they are better than South East Asians, and so on. Looking back, I realize that the media played a huge role in how we view other races. My parents used to say Blacks and Mexicans are dirty and lazy so don’t hang out with them. This was purely based on what we saw on TV, since Guam (where I grew up) didn’t have a black community. We believed what we saw on TV.
When I moved to San Francisco in January 2000, I started making friends of all races and cultures. It was so much easier to do since SF is such a diverse city. I had Thai food for the first time. My college roommate was Native American, and I made my first real Black friend my second year in college. The world just got WAY bigger than I imagined, and it was a beautiful and fascinating place.
When Covid hit, I started hearing about the violence towards Asians. I started getting news feeds on my phone, FB messages, my friends from NY and LA telling me about the violence. Trump started calling it Chinese Virus. People would say “Go back to China,” “Go back to your country and take your virus with you.” I was dumbfounded. This is a pandemic that nature puts in our path. This isn’t the first time humanity faced a pandemic, but how quick are people to point fingers and blame someone else? Life happens. Maybe this is a way for mother nature to control our population? I don’t know… but I do know we are one of the few species on this planet that only consume and destroy.
For the first time in my life I felt unsafe in my own skin because of the color of my skin. Because I am yellow… I used to go for walks in my Pac Heights neighborhood at night without any fear of being attacked, and all of a sudden I was looking over my shoulders to see if anyone was going to come at with a baseball bat. I stopped walking around after sunset.
I was always empathetic to the people in the projects since that’s where I grew up. I know what it means to be poor and working your way out and achieving something better for yourself than what you are born into. The American dream… I believed as long as you have a goal and you work your butt off, you can get there. Little did I know that your skin color also puts roadblocks in front of you. This was not an issue for me, so I never truly knew.
Covid brought new knowledge for me. For the first time I understood how your own skin color makes you a target and how that fear can eat away at you. I’m not even Chinese, but to others it didn’t matter: I’m Asian and that means I am to blame for the virus to a lot of people. I finally REALLY understood what it meant to be a group of race that was suppressed based on the color of your skin. I will never fully understand how it is to be judged constantly but this was a glimpse of what others suffer through on a daily basis.
I share my story with you because for the first time I truly see how the color of your skin can sometimes define you to others before you even get a chance to show them who you really are. I hear people say “I don’t see color” or “I don’t see race.” I think that’s the wrong way of approaching it. That means we are ignoring the pain and suffering of generations before us went through.
I go back to being Korean. As a proud Korean, I want others to understand what our people went through during the Japanese occupation. We were treated worse than dogs by the Japanese occupants from 1910 to 1945. We were told we couldn’t speak our language, considered second class citizens, there was segregation of establishments based on race on our OWN SOIL!
If someone told me that to them it didn’t matter if I was Japanese or Korean since I am Asian, I would be livid. My grandparents and my family before them didn’t fight for our rights and freedom so that others can ignore all the suffering and turmoil we went through. We all have pain and suffering. They are not all the same experiences, but they are just as painful either way. We can’t ignore the color of our skin or what our ethnic background is, but we can learn from one another and understand that pain and suffering and be a help to the community and not be ignorant.
This whole experience has opened my eyes more than I can ever imagine and I hope to be a better human being.
Regional Finance Director – East