“The Anaether” is meant to be an escape from the real world, but I feel it would be wrong of me to ignore what’s been happening in the real world.

I’m writing this in early June in the year of 2020. Tons can change after today, but with this pandemic and perhaps the largest civil rights movement/protest in history, it’s easier for me to establish where I stand in all of this.

I stand with those who have been protesting in response to the murder of George Floyd. Black lives matter.

I would go out and protest, but for one I’m not that brave, and two, we’re in the middle of a pandemic. I live in the country that is number 1 in deaths due to Covid-19. About 116,000 Americans died in World War I. We will shortly surpass that, probably in just a few days as I’m writing this. We surpass every other country by far. We have more than twice the amount of deaths as the next country, the UK with about 40,000 deaths. As much as I’d love to contribute as a protester, I do not want to partake in spiking our cases, deaths and the overwhelming of our healthcare facilities and workers. I’d rather keep my health, keep working to earn money so that I can continue to donate to organizations such as the ACLU, NAACP, BLM, Campaign Zero and any organization that supports protesters as well as healthcare workers.

The USA had their first reported case of Covid-19 around the same time as South Korea did. As of today, the USA has about 114,000 deaths, whereas South Korea has just less than 300 deaths. South Korea has 5 deaths per million, the USA has over 300 deaths per million people.

The USA has 4% of the world’s population, but about a quarter of the world’s Covid-19 deaths right now. I didn’t think this could get worse. Then it gets worse.

I was outraged by the anti-lockdown protests, but now that there are thousands out there protesting in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, the cases will spike even more. I completely understand the sentiment, I completely agree with this cause and it is very impressive, it has made a difference. Those 4 police officers should be properly charged with murder and shouldn’t be getting away with a crime they committed, especially when it was clear as day on camera. The systemic racism and the clear unequal treatment of people needs to be fixed. The police must be held accountable for their actions, and can’t keep getting away with breaking the law themselves. If there was a better way to get this done I’m sure people would be doing that instead but here we are.

So here is me trying to help with our problems of systemic racism in solidarity with BLM. I think people should know at least a few things about what African Americans go through all the time and have gone through in our history.

I am not black, and I shouldn’t have to have black friends or family to know that their lives matter and that they should have the same basic human respect like the rest of us, because they are people.

When it comes to my skin color, I’ve been comparatively privileged. I will never know nor will I understand the true pain and suffering of African Americans, anywhere from the every-day micro-aggressions all the way to getting murdered while just jogging outside (Ahmaud Arbery). I will only ever know these things on an intellectual level, and I believe that is the least we can all do. Educate ourselves and educate others around us.

I’m not by any means an expert in black history, but it has taken me a while to learn the rough extent of how badly our system is rigged against our black communities. Ignorance contributes to the suffering of our black communities every day. African Americans can’t and shouldn’t be expected to go around trying to educate everyone properly. It’s exhausting enough dealing with their own problems as it is.

I’ll tell you about how I was definitely part of the problem and how I am now trying really hard not to be.

This was my childhood experience with our educational system. We idolized Martin Luther King Jr., we learned about the African slave trade. During my entire time in grade school (K-12), I thought we were living in a post-racial society, because we learned about black history. I always assumed that somehow the end of our history curriculum was just “the end.” I had little to no exposure to the African American community, let alone anyone telling me about their experiences of being mistreated because of the color of their skin. I grew up in a majority white community with a few pockets of minorities, I myself being American-born Chinese. Even if I did witness or experience mistreatment, it didn’t connect when I was a kid. I got bullied on the bus a lot for being Chinese. I will also admit when I was 7 years old, I bullied the new black girl in my class for being black.

It was only after I kept making insensitive black jokes in college that my black classmates made me realize we don’t live in a post-racial society. It was years after I graduated from college that I learned more about the appalling extent of the injustices that happen to African Americans every day. We don’t hear about every horrible thing that happens. It unfortunately needs to be “bad enough” to make the news and for people to care about it.

I had an old client tell me that he was moving to Japan. I asked him why. He told me it was because America treats its black citizens horribly. I then pointed out something like, “But you’d totally get stared at all the time in Japan and treated like an outsider.” To that he answered, “For me to be treated as a foreigner in Japan is better than being a black citizen in the US.” He couldn’t stand the day-to-day micro-aggressions he experienced as a black American citizen.

I used to watch “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” a lot. It’s probably one of my all-time favorite TV shows. I’d watch the parts where Will Smith knew exactly how to behave around cops while Carlton held his naive and firm belief in the system. I watched as Jazz was careful not to make any quick movements around cops/authority figures and very carefully announced all of his own movements before and as he did them. I only understood as an adult the references to the systemic racism that Will Smith made in his shows and movies. He presents them as jokes, I took them as jokes. What they referenced flew right over my head. This is what my privilege and ignorance looked like. I didn’t realize how horrifically real they are and how so many of these situations in real life end up in the senseless deaths of real African Americans. On top of that, many if not most perpetrators aren’t properly held accountable.

I have a friend who genuinely thought African Americans deserve to be incarcerated, that black people are “bad” and really needed to be in prison more. Her parents told her that, and forbade her to date black men because they’re so bad that they take up a significant portion of the prison population. I’d imagine there are a lot of people who think like this. Luckily, my friend and her parents have a lot of respect for me, so I corrected them on their beliefs.

Everyone should watch the film, “13th.” It’s on Netflix. Here are some important facts I think everyone should know. In America, African Americans account for about 13% of the general population (sheer coincidence, the movie is about the 13th Amendment). About 70% of the American population is white. African Americans account for about 40% of the American prison population. The 13th Amendment outlaws slavery, and the Amendment’s loophole was taken advantage of by the white majority that created and rules the system. It’s pretty much an extension of the system of black slavery. Legally, slavery is only allowed as punishment for crime.

The US is exceptionally great at incarcerating people. Again, we have 4% of the world’s population but again (by sheer coincidence with current covid deaths) we have a quarter of the world’s prison population. Our recidivism rate is something like 70 to 75%. This means that five years after leaving prison, 70 to 75% of ex-cons return to prison. I don’t think our justice system is that interested in actually helping people. Black people tend to get arrested more and receive more severe sentences for committing the same crimes as white people.

I was told by a close friend about an incident in American history that was intentionally omitted from our history curriculum across the country. I had to learn this from him long after I was done with school — honestly I believe it should be taught to every child in American schools.

The Tulsa race massacre in 1921.

It worries me to think of other important events that have probably been omitted from our country’s school history books.

My friend told me that Tulsa, Oklahoma, was home to the richest black community in the country at the time. Black Wall Street. African Americans played by the rules and were lifting themselves up economically. To a racist, the only thing worse than a black person is a successful black person. The white communities felt threatened by the expansion of successful black communities.

I just tried like 10 times to summarize the incident and cringed at it so I’m just going to copy and paste what CNN/HRW.org wrote:

 … a large mob of white men and boys invaded Greenwood, outnumbering its defenders by 20 to 1 or more. Witnesses said that people in airplanes flew over Greenwood dropping firebombs and shooting at people.

The attack lasted throughout the day. The mob drove through Greenwood, shooting and killing black people, looting and burning their homes and businesses. Many black residents fought back, but they were greatly outnumbered and outgunned. Many fled, while thousands were taken prisoner. At best, Tulsa Police took no action to prevent the massacre. Reports indicate that some police actively participated in the violence and looting.

The mob destroyed 35 square blocks of Greenwood, burning down over 1,200 homes, over 60 businesses, a school, a hospital, a public library, and a dozen churches. Hundreds of homes that were not burned down were looted as well. Some estimates put the death toll at 300, while others believe it was much higher.

Black Wall Street was firebombed by aircraft, and police didn’t do anything to protect the victims and some even participated in the violence against them. The event was sparked from a young black man being accused of assaulting a young white woman in an elevator. People say what likely happened was that the man tripped and probably accidentally grabbed her. Either way I’m sure that incident didn’t warrant fire-bombing Black Wall Street.

I can’t possibly cover every important topic with regards to black history and the continued racial injustices that keep happening today, but this is roughly some of the most important things I know on the subject.

I hope our world changes for the better with this civil rights movement. I hope that you also support #Blacklivesmatter.

Thank you for reading this post.