I have several news apps on my phone and the past few months I’ve received more alerts than I could have expected. In just the past month, the world has witnessed the shooting of Dallas police officers, Orlando nightclub shooting, Nice attack, German train attack, and of course the numerous black men who have been slain. While there are lots of police officers patrolling my NYC neighborhood, I have never felt as unsafe recently.
I remember the day before the Independence Day, when I was Skyping with my mother, she told me: “I heard that there was a bomb in NYC, are you ok? Don’t go to crowded places and stay at home.” I seldom tell my parents about the violence and terrorism issues in America since I don’t want them to worry about me.
Last November, there was a serious student protest on my campus that was a result of racism issues. At that time, a white student threatened that he would kill black students on Yik Yak, an anonymous social media app with a local radius. That night, I was terrified. I couldn’t believe racism was so close to me that it could threaten the lives of my friends and me. The next morning was the first time that I was the only non-white passenger on the bus and there were fewer students on campus than usual. Later, the person who made the threats was caught. However, racism doesn’t just disappear.
Last week, when I was on the subway in Manhattan, there was a white man and two 9-year-old looking boys (one white and one black) standing. The boys seemed like they were tired and on the way back home after tennis training. The only available seat was taken by a black woman’s bag. The white man asked if the boys could take the seat, the woman said no. Unexpectedly, the woman said a bunch of dirty words to the man, and even to the white boy for more than 10 minutes. I was shocked...a lot. I couldn’t understand why a simple behavior can result in a racism bias. To be honest, even though I’m Asian, I don’t feel that I’m treated differently here in the United States.
That day, I truly saw the gap between black and white people because there are biases and misunderstandings on both sides (for example, when I searched for “racism” in Twitter, there are about 1,500 tweets per day that mention the word, from Hashtracking.com). From what I’ve observed, on black people’s side, they sometimes are badly treated by society, so they want to protect their rights. On white people’s side, some of them are kind, but some are not and can be regarded all as “racist.” It’s a vicious circle. As an ordinary human, it’s too hard for us to always think about the other side.