Being here in China has the feature (I think of it as a benefit) of being a step removed from the election (I’ve sent in for an absentee ballot, but I’m a little worried it won’t get here in time…) and the other various American societal problems that the media would have you believe are coming to a head only now. Facebook’s good for keeping me informed about all of this, and I’ve actually taken to posting the odd status now and again to raise awareness for Black Lives Matter etc. As one of my old classmates put it, this isn’t behavior worthy of praise, but the absolute minimum that any white person should be doing.
On the subjec, I happened across this video as well, which I encourage all of you to watch past 2.5 minute mark, and then keep watching. It’s good words.
So now that you’ve presumably watched the video, what do you think? I think he’s right on the mark. As a white guy, one of the largest parts of my privilege is the ability to just walk away from whatever makes me uncomfortable and live in my perfect little world. This is even more true in China, I can completely ignore all the issues going on in America if I so desired, just stay on the “safe” parts of the internet and just worry about my classes and hanging out in China.
To take it one step further though, there are times when China can get rather aggravating. The constant attention and the first five minutes of every conversation with a new Chinese person being identical (What country are you from? Wow! Your Chinese is so good! How long have you been studying/how long have you been in China? Are you used to China? Can you stomach Chinese food…ad inf.) can make you yearn for home on occasion. Other things like being faced with the disparities in Chinese society, be it contempt for panhandlers, being forced to face your privilege with respect to your Chinese peers, or your even greater privilege with respect to the rest of Chinese society is also an emotional burden.
But again, whenever that happens, you can still just walk away, live in your little English world and never leave your dorm, never have to really face that reality. So with that taken into consideration, I guess the only thing to do is remain engaged for as long as you can, and if you come from privilege, recognize and step past it. Also don’t let your hurt feelings get to you when someone points out privilege you weren’t aware you had, that’s how privilege works, of course you’re not gonna notice