I feel the need to write a disclaimer before this post because most of the time, I don’t do enough research about situations and philosophies and ways of thinking. I just know what I think in my own heart and mind, but I don’t want to add to the vast amount of ignorant and narrow-minded content already floating around on the internet. I wish I could say that this blog is a “safe space for me to express my own opinions” but unfortunately I don’t think that there exists a safe space on the internet anywhere.
But I do want to get these thoughts down and the process of typing it out, editing, revisiting sentences to make them sound better (things I don’t do in my handwritten journal) helps myself to process, edit, revisit my own opinions, and so this post is meant 100% for me and not necessarily to help make others think. If you are reading this and it does make you think – negatively or positively – let me know! And help me learn.
- Zoning out and accidentally seeing what the man next to me is watching on his phone – a golf lesson.
- Pausing to observe two policemen questioning a slightly disheveled man outside a 7-11.
I try my hardest not to make assumptions, so my assumptions don’t influence how I interact with them – not to judge others based on a single identity marker – because people are more than just their: race, religion, sexuality, gender, way they dress, way they talk, way they move, career, education, marital status and fill in the blank with whatever else you want. And yet I do, instantly, almost every moment of my day. It’s not just with strangers, it’s with people I know and call my friends as well. They’re going to do [blank] because they are [blank]. They’re going to react [this way] because they believe [this].
Is it possible to not assume anything at all? What if they are “harmless” assumptions? As in situation #1 above – I assume that the man is probably trying to learn golf. But in situation #3 – in which we weren’t pausing merely for casual observation but in fact to watch out for unnecessary police brutality (mostly due to my more socially aware friend. I would have kept walking.) – what is the right call? What if there is no time to meet the person, learn their background, figure out where they stand on this issue and this issue and how they would act in this situation – it can be life-threatening to assume things (as in situation #2), but can’t it also be life-saving?
I look around on public transportation and am reminded that yes, I am a “minority” where I live and work. But I am fortunate enough to be a minority where the majority’s assumptions of me (at least in this current age) are less life-threatening – but that’s only if I talk about being Asian. If I’m female, my minority labels me as very different things. If you had to choose, would you rather be the victim of a racial slur or a sexist slur?
I am not my [fill in the blank here]. Then what is the right way to treat people? To treat strangers, or to treat people you have relationships with? How do you want me to react to you? How do I want people to react to me? Life is easier on the stage, in dance, when I directly embody (with my body) how I want people to see me. Can I translate that to the real world somehow?