MERI Center Blog

Rise Up

Since June 1, I’ve been trying to write about the uprisings/protests/riots happening right now in a clear and thoughtful way.  With anger and sadness, between meetings and work, the words jumbled together in a near stream of consciousness, fragmented and all over the place.   Reading and rereading my written thoughts, I struggle to find the balance between professionalism and honesty, between honesty and unintended (?) consequences.  And yet, it feels profoundly important to write something for this blog during this time.

I am an Asian American woman, daughter of Asian American activists. My father was a part of the Third World Strike at UC Berkeley in 1968/9, when Black, Latinx, and Asian American students came together to demand Ethnic Studies.  My mother, a bit older than my father, marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. My paternal grandparents were incarcerated during WWII at Topaz, Utah.  My paternal grandfather fought in WWII with the 44nd Regimental Battalion made up of Japanese American men.  I am also the wife of a Caucasian man and the mother of two incredible Hapa children. I am a Person of Color.  These uprisings have affected me deeply. 

Monday was a struggle, trying to find the words to adequately describe my feelings while going from meeting to meeting, where the uprisings became the main topic of discussion. I ping ponged between anger and intense grief.  I cried about 3, maybe 4 times.  Cried at the injustice, cried for the strides we haven’t made, cried in anger, cried in sadness.  There was also frustration as colleagues reminded our workgroups to make talking about racism a normal part of our conversations.  Such privilege to have to be reminded to make this a normal part of the conversation.  For POC, it is always a part of the conversation.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that I work with many Allies, who are taking this time to think about what can be done to effect change.  It’s just frustrating that it’s taken these uprisings to have these conversations. 

Sometimes my anger flares and it is just as draining as the grief. While I don’t want to wallow in my grief, I want to hold onto my anger.  It fuels my purpose. I don’t want to center myself; I don’t want to be calm.  I want to take these feelings and funnel them into something powerful and life/world changing.   

We are wondering what we can do to make a difference.  There is no one solution; we all have to do what we can.  On a personal level, we have to sit with the discomfort, review our own biases, and have those uncomfortable conversations, sometimes with extended, or not so extended family.  Racism is wrong and comes in many, many forms.  Call it out; don’t let it pass because it doesn’t seem like it’s the right time or place.  On a professional level, we need to examine our workgroups, actively recruit diverse candidates, and listen to what they have to contribute.  On a political level, we need to vote and elect representatives that embody our beliefs. 

Above all, we cannot let our voices be silenced.