By Jacqueline Leung • June 12, 2017•Writers in Residence, Issues, Balancing Private and Professional Life, Other Issues
I sincerely apologize in the delay in this month’s post. My heart has been heavy for the past few weeks. As many of you may have heard, there was a major hate crime in my community. It has been surreal -- while I am aware of the anger, pain, and hate from White Supremacists who live and exist in my state (and city) and having experienced some myself -- it still hurts my heart and mind when another act of hate is committed against my community. It is not the first act, nor it is one I am unfamiliar with. THis is the life I have lived for many years. There were threats of violence or insinuations of violence against me because of my race/ethnicity. I also had violence done against me, by my ex, for the pure reason of being a ‘woman’ who ‘deserved it because I let them do it to me.’
When I first moved to Oregon, I was unaware of Oregon’s history. I was looking for a community that would be similar to where I moved from in the midwest. Since moving here, I learned the truth about Oregon’s ‘rich’ history. I learned the following:
- 1998: This is NOT the first act of hate committed against our community. There was a murder of an Ethiopian immigration by skinheads in 1998. (NPR Portland White Supremacy).
- 1920s: The KKK history and influence is entrenched within Portland. The Klan rose to power in the 1920s, with considerable political power. For example, the Klan-dominated Oregon Legislature passed an Alien Land Law barring Japanese land ownership.
- 1940s: Oregon also was one of many states to arrest American Japanese and eventually bussed them to internment camps. (Oregon History: KKK. JACL Asian American History).
- 1951: Oregon repealed its law prohibiting interracial marriages. (Oregon History).
- Early 2000s: It was not until the early 2000s when Oregon finally removed excluding blacks from residency from its Constitution, even though it legally was removed decades ago. (NY Times Oregon History).
When I read through the aforementioned articles, my heart hurt even more.
Yet, a piece of me remains hopeful. There are activists -- other People of Color and allies who are moving towards removing the hate as well as educating the masses. Yesterday evening, I attended a discussion and potluck on Racism in Oregon. I was able to stay for 2 hours, yet the discussion went on for at least 6 hours. This tells me several things:
- I am with good people who will fight alongside with me to stop the hate, to stop the violence.
- My children will grow up learning the necessary tools to be safe, and to be aware of their surroundings.
- My children will grow up feeling knowledgeable, safe, aware, and awoke.
- There are opportunities for each of us to be engaged and to embrace the good, while pushing aside and push back against the bad, ignorant, and hate.
- That I can do this, that I can take action to stop the hate, to stop the pain, and to educate those who will listen.
This reminds me of a statement from Martin Luther King Jr. “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness. We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.” (1958) MLK Statement.
I can only hope that we, too, can achieve a better world and environment, not only for ourselves, but for our future, and the legacy we leave to them.