Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Why You Scared?

Fear can be a potent poison.

It can stop your heart, immobilize your limbs and numb your brain. Its toxins destroy the cognitive ability of neurons like a child destroys white walls.

Fear is contagious.

You've seen it spring from host to host like a parasitic gymnast. You've watched it burrows into people's psyches; seen it take up residence behind their eyes and turn them into soulless puppets. Fear transforms crowds into mobs and heroes into cowards.

Fear also makes people stupid.

Exhibit A.

The young Vietnamese teenager in that article pulled herself up by her proverbial bootstraps and reached the apex of academic achievement in her small town. She and her cousin were named valedictorians of their class. And, as that young woman enjoyed the view from the summit she had struggled to reach, she decided to give a personal thank you to her parents for their help along her journey.

She gave that "thank you" in Vietnamese.

And people went crazy.

Those crazy people called for rules against speaking anything but English in graduation speeches. They puffed out their chests and talked about patriotism and proper decorum. They questioned her motives and her translation. They became concerned and afraid.

Eventually that fear had a baby named anger.

What was the source of that anger? Was it a general unease at the unknown? Was it a animosity caused by exclusion?

I think it was a fear of losing power.

See, it's one thing for an "other" like this Vietnamese girl to manage to outwork and out think all the "true Americans" and become the valedictorian. That's bad, but understandable. Those Asians can be crafty after all.

However, it's quite another thing when the same other who beat out "true Americans" starts spouting coded messages that "true Americans" can't comprehend. Then, questions arise about the other's motives, about their allegiances, about who or what they really love.

It becomes about power.

See, that school system felt a power shift when that young Vietnamese girl not only bested every "real American" in a battle of wits, but then had the temerity to reveal her true allegiances.

That decision crossed a line, it made the issue not about freedom of speech but about whether this young woman and others like her are a threat. Her actions said to "true Americans" that she didn't care if they were comfortable; she didn't care if they were happy. Her actions said that if she had something she wanted to do, the feelings of "true Americans" were not her concern.

And that's scary.

It's scary to those individuals who believe that white is right. It frightens those individuals who believe that minorities will revolt if tight control is not maintained. After all, they know that's how they would react if the situations were reversed.

These people see the rising number of un-true Americans" in this country and they feel the power shift that is looming. They fight against that power shift in small and large ways; sometimes its sentencing disparities and racial profiling, other times its requiring English in graduation speeches. But, all these measures have fear at their core.

The sad thing is that this fear is unnecessary. Most minorities do not want revenge, we just want peace and equality. We are not out to "get whitey," we just want to get whitey off our backs!

Some of us may hoard power, influence and opportunity when given a chance, but that's because we're human not because we're not "true Americans.". There is no massive conspiracy to right every historical wrong; no master plan that all the minorities are working to carry out..

The poisonous and contagious fear that has found solace in the hearts of "true Americans" only hurts them and their children. It only prevents the progress they desperately want to occur. Fear justifies any reaction and provides an excuse for every evil. Fear steals our humanity.

It's time to move past that fear.


WNG said...

Wow, Big Man.
Excellent. Post.

Anonymous said...

So true, we need to get past the fear. Sadly I don't know if we as a nation are capable of it. Just look at the number of folks who despite the Rev. Wright issue, still think Obama is a Muslim because of his name.

Big Man said...

That Muslim thing still is mind blowing. You can't have it both ways. He can't be a radical Christian and be a Muslim. However, most of those folks just claim that Obama's church wasn't really a Christian church anyway, so that's why the Muslim thing makes sense.

Big Man said...

Oh, and thanks WNG

truth said...

Big man,
Great post! This is surprising, I thought Asians were the model minority!

Big Man said...

There are when white folks want to compare them to black people. But, when Asians start taking spots in schools and doing better than white kids, well they aren't so "model" then.

WNG said...

oh and I LOVE the new picture

It reminds me of his quote from the latest rolling stone, "I don't do cowering."

Ben Atkinson said...

Great post!

In Louisiana, if you are a person of color who realizes "the American Dream," some folks want to rain on your parade.

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

What an awful story and an awful way for those people to treat that girl. Jee-zuz! My black paranoia can't hold a candle to white paranoia.

At least mine is based on their age-old stated beliefs of Manifest Destiny of them taking over the world - which many still feel entitled to, and their over 500 years of actual historical acts of genocide, murder, rape, plunder, theft of resources and entire countries, and oppression, which continues today.

Check out my recent article how this is playing in the current election. I think you'll like it.

Audrey said...

Big Man,
I was unable to read the linked article as I do not subscribe to the times online, but you can read about it from their local paper here:
Two beautiful young women who spoke of freedom and got hit in the face with prejudice for it. I can't find words for the sadness and anger.

Love the new Obama pic btw.

jelana said...

Excellent post. You are exactly right when you say it is fear of losing power. I don't actually understand it when we are only 12% of the population. Even if all the so called minorities colluded, this US system is not set up in a manner where that could ever happen. They just don't THINK!

Big Man said...

Welcome new people, or at least people I'm not totally familiar with.

Gye Greene said...

Dang! That is **so** racist!

If the girl had been an ethnic/immigrant Caucasian, and said something to her parents in French or Swedish -- the audience would have thought it was cute.

Some foreign languages are more "foreign" than others...


nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

exactly gye greene.

Do people who have a problem with what this girl said not notice the demographics of this country? Or maybe they do and that is why, like you said, they are scared.

MiGrant said...

For a raving lunatic you make a lot of sense....

Raving Black Lunatic