The other day, I came home trembling after dropping my kids off at a friend’s house for a playdate.
I had just parked my minivan in front of her home and was walking to her front door with my kids trailing behind me. All of a sudden, a dark gray SUV rolled up and a white man with his windows down said, “Excuse me. You should know that a lot of kids play in the area and my wife saw you driving 50mph down the street here. She watches our grandchildren. That’s not safe and you should be more careful.”
I was stunned and a lot confused. What in the actual fuck was happening and why was he talking to me about it? I turned my back on him and said, “Whatever.”
My kids rushed around me, asking if I was actually driving that fast. For a brief second, I questioned myself, but then, I replied, “No. No, I was not.”
First off, there’s literally a stop sign every 300 feet in this neighborhood — many of which were uphill. My friend’s house is two houses from a stop sign on a street I had to turn left on from a dead stop. I would have had to speed up to 50mph, screeched to a stop without skid marks, and then backed into my spot parallel to the curb in fewer than 100 feet in my 12-year-old minivan.
If I were capable of such feats, I should be in fucking Tokyo Drift.
Second, from wherever they lived, it was impossible for them to have seen me even if I had been driving that fast — which I was not. Did his wife have X-ray vision along with a built-in radar gun? Did she also have the ability to see through tinted windows to ensure that I was, in fact, the driver of the minivan she saw? Did she have the plates written down?
I stewed the entire ten minute drive home, these details replaying on an endless loop. When I got home and told my husband what happened, all I got was a distracted “Okay…?” (I’d say patronizing, but that’s just me being petty. He’s not a bad person, dear reader.)
I just stared at him, not understanding why he couldn’t comprehend why I was so angry. But I, too, was having a difficult time expressing precisely why I was so furious.
I stomped away from him, flailing my arms and snapped, “Oh, sure! There goes my wife, popping off again! It’s always something with her! She’s pissed about some white person again!”
I went to my room and slammed the door. It was very unsatisfying.
To be a POC is to constantly question questionable interactions
And here’s the thing. I really am always popping off. I have a short fuse, but I am also easily distracted. Once I get it out of my system, I usually move on. That is, unless something pisses me off so much that I am compelled to write super long screeds on the internet about it.
It took me about an hour, but I finally was able to figure out how to articulate what was really bothering me.
Why do white people constantly feel the need to police POC? Especially POC going about their daily lives, just trying to schlep their annoying children off on a kind friend for a few hours so they can go home and nap?
It is infuriating. And in many cases — life-threatening.
I was afraid, but I didn’t know why
Given the current anti-Asian climate and the fact that the majority of hate crimes committed against Asians in the U.S. are perpetrated by white men, I did not feel safe. A recent study based on data from 1992 to 2014 reported that 75% of assailants in anti-Asian hate crimes were white. Those numbers are believed to be underreported — and given the 164% increase in reported anti-Asian hate crimes since this time last year, it is logical to extrapolate that the percentage of white males who are violent attackers will have also increased.
And thus, given that I was an Asian American woman — on foot, with four Asian American children — it was extremely threatening for a white man to drive by and accost me. He had the power to run us over — and before you say that I’m blowing things way out of proportion, a year or two ago, a white man driving a pickup truck actually sped up at me to try and hit me while I had the right of way, crossing the street at a crosswalk.
So, no. I don’t think I’m unfounded in my fear.
I don’t care if he seemed to sound perfectly calm in his self-righteousness. I know that could have changed in an instant. In my experience, white people — but white men especially — can turn on a dime as soon as they feel their authority is challenged.
But also, he could have come out of his car and physically assaulted me. He could have done a lot of things that I would have been unable to adequately prevent or protect us from. He looked young and fit enough to me — and of all adjectives to describe myself, fit is not one of them.
Let’s call it what it is: white privilege
It didn’t matter that we were in a super nice neighborhood full of million dollar homes. I am constantly reminded that I don’t belong here, though I pay my fucking taxes and grew up in this area.
It didn’t matter because POC don’t matter in this country. Because for some reason, white folks think they’re the only people who belong in certain spaces — and if you’re a POC and in that space, you sure as fucking better justify your presence. We’re restricted and regulated — some of us more than others — and “per our guidelines” or “traditioned” to death (which, if you examine far back enough, are almost always rooted in racism).
Speaking of which, I’m reminded of how for decades, my mother received hate mail in her gated community of 99% white people and was constantly reported to the HOA for minor infractions by this one particularly vile old white woman. (The way I hope for her prolonged suffering, folks. The way I hope.)
In case you’re wondering, this is the height of entitlement — the expectation that POC should listen to you because you’re white and naturally, are the enforcer of law and order (which — you guessed it — is also steeped in racism!).
I wish nothing but a life full of chronic pain and suffering to every single meddling white person who calls the cops on POC or uploads Next Door posts masquerading as concerned citizens when they’re really racist AF. I don’t want to be responsible for wishing death upon people — but I have zero qualms about manifesting anal fissures, gallstones (really, any stones coming out of tiny holes and tubes), tiny splinters underneath toenails, herniated discs, fistulas, unbearable genital itching, and a bevy of other non-fatal maladies for the rest of their fucking lives.