I’m not black. I’m not white. So, I sit on the sidelines. People think I’m Latin, even though I’m Asian. That still puts me on the sidelines. So, here I sit. Watching people hate each other. I can’t agree with The Black Lives Matter Movement. I’ve seen all of the opinions of why I should. And I think they are all valid points. But, I just can’t shake one word. Segregation.
When I was about nine, my father was stationed in Germany. We were there for a couple of years and I had grown to love the country, learn the language and enjoy the food and people. My father decided it was time I learned about the history. He gifted me an experience that there aren’t a lot of nine year olds with. He took me to Bergen Belsen (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergen-Belsen_concentration_camp). I was a nerd growing up. All I wanted was books. I BEGGED my father to take me to the library, every day. Literally, every day. So, when we walked into the building and there were copies of Ann Frank’s Diary being sold, my eyes lit up and I cried for one. Of course, my father said yes and we kept walking. I flipped through the book looking for excerpts, so I didn’t notice a lot of the beginning of the museum. I thought it felt cold, being a building of concrete, steel and glass. I was more interested in the book. My father asked me to pay attention…that I was missing some very important information. The word information triggered my curiosity- his intention, I’m sure- and I started looking around. What I saw changed my life. Black and white photos of bodies. Broken and emaciated bodies in mass graves, captured in a painful moment. Some bodies were lifeless, but in many you could see what little life was left and suffering. I didn’t understand. I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. I was only nine. What did I know about pain and suffering other than what my father told me about? We walked through and I was confused. I was sad. We walked outside and I saw hills. I asked my father why the hills were so small and lush. That was when he told me something that would make it all click. Those were the bodies. The people were in mass graves, only feet from where I was standing. They were still there and made the photos very real.
That experience made segregation very real for me. I suddenly understood that the cruelty in India wasn’t just stories. Gandhi stood up for his people for a reason. Martin Luther King, Jr. stood for the same principles. Segregation. Whether it is because you’re a Jew or Muslim or because you’re black or white. If you’re going to talk about Black Lives Matter, you should talk about Muslims in America that are also treated unfairly. Or Latinos that are killed at the hands of police officers. There weren’t any protests when September 11th happened and there was retaliation against Indians and Arabs because they were perceived as the enemy. Or when there were riots in Los Angeles and Koreans were killed because they weren’t black, so they were considered the enemy. Of course Black Lives Matter. But, by segregating yourself, you can’t integrate to achieve your goal. You can’t ask to be treated with the same respect as everyone else if you separate yourself. Focus on injustice overall and for everyone. Not just black people.