After re-reading my article on racism at Vanderbilt (here), I can’t help but to feel like I overstated my case.
Racism is a very strong word. The Ku Klux Klan murdering 197 and assaulting 548 blacks within an 18 month period in 1867 is racism. Plessy v. Ferguson standing for over 50 years is racism. I don’t know if I can use the same word to describe my experience here. Perhaps the words “racial insensitivity” are closer to what I meant than racism.
Since last writing, my closest friends are no longer all minorities. I have understood that as minorities we are more sensitive about our race and think more about race than the average person. I think the whole first month of my time here, I was under the impression that people did not approach me because of my race or that if someone wasn’t as nice as they should be, that it was because I was asian. The reality is that there are millions of other reasons why someone can be an asshole and race is only one of them.
I think the way I reacted was because of my experience in Argentina. There was no sense of “politically correctness” growing up in Argentina. My nickname was chino wherever I went, even as I tried to explain that there are at least 2 billion other eastern asians who shared these slanty eyes. I am planning to go back to Argentina this summer to hopefully find some answers on why people act that way and if Argentina really is as bad as I remembered. More on this later.