It’s 2016. Why does the thought of diversity and the fact that people of color (like me) are fighting to achieve equality and representation, anger so many white people? If you live with a “color blind” perspective, then you will fail to see systemic discrimination and inequality as it stares at you in your own community. Unfortunately, people of color cannot yet afford to exist without consciousness of their color. I have harboured internalized contempt towards my own Filipino, queer identity because of the normalized perceptions of Asian people paraded by mainstream white society. When Kristen Stewart told entertainers of color to “Do something!” she failed to realize that we always are, but aren’t given the same amount of opportunities. Which is why we have resorted to our own means and I hope our success continues to grow. But generally speaking, we still need help. We need white people to realize that not everything plays out equally for everyone else, even from the start.
When discussing privilege, it seems that many white people only view it in a financial sense. But for people of color, it encompasses all boundaries in a socio-political cultural sphere. Even a friend of mine who is half white, half POC failed to acknowledge this. But that’s our reality. We all have internalized a false perception of where we belong in society. I’ve internalized that in a hierarchy of POC, blacks are at the bottom, Asians are at the top, and as long as I have my (still unfair) share, I’m cool with it. *Wrong.* This is still wrong. This is the systemic mental process that needs to go. I try to pull back from these seedlings of thought daily and I’m getting better.
To whomever is reading, please think deeper. Challenge your perceptions. Help us all get better and reach more equal footing in society.
*Final note, read The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin.*
Now let’s get in formation.
There is unconditional love in the folding of clothes. Sometime last week I did laundry in a batch mixed with my own, my mother’s, and my father’s. As I was folding my laundry to my Beyonce soundtrack, I was ready to just return the laundry basket to their room unfolded because they’re clean anyhow and they can fold it themselves. But when I picked up my last piece of clothing from the basket, I realized something quite startling: my mom would have never done that. Whenever she gets her hands on my laundry, she folds and irons everything; it doesn’t matter whose it is. Sometimes there are certain shirts I’ll ask her to iron because I’m too lazy to do so, but she always folds my clothes the neatest way I’ve ever seen. I’m grateful for that. I realized that this is one way she gives me and my sister unconditional love. I started to cry in this moment. It’s after midnight as Beyonce continues to play from my Mac downstairs and I look into the basket at my parents’ clothes and hesitating no further, I fold them; mind you it wasn’t a full basket to begin with so there wasn’t much to fold. The realization just kept repeating in my mind: this is unconditional love, this is unconditional love. She treats our clothes with care without being asked to do so because she is our mother, we are her children, she loves us, and that’s the role she wants to play as a mother, a mother that wants to take care of her kids.
Most of my mom’s laundry was her underwear. I am usually averse to touching any of my family members’ underwear because they’re soiled, but that never stopped my mom from washing all of our clothes. So I folded my parents’ underwear from the light in my room while my dad slept with his door open, light splashing onto his tired face, and I did it happily. “XO” by Beyonce came on as I finished up, and when I had one foot into my parents’ room to place their clothes on the bench, Beyonce sang out the second verse, “We don’t have forever. Ooh, baby daylight’s wasting. You better kiss me, before our time has run out.” I quickly took a step back into the lit hallway and gasped at the intensity of which that verse hit me and sobbed as quietly as I could without waking my dad. This song especially makes me feel the shortness of time and when I heard that second verse, I thought of the distance between my parents and me and I didn’t want it there anymore. I want them to kiss me before our time is run out. We have our problems just like any other family, but being back at home has made me realize and see things I never did before. A new intimacy lingers in the solitude. Coming back from study abroad and completing my college career has made the opaque a little clearer. I feel more connected, or at least I want to, and wanting that means so much to me.
Now I know: there is unconditional love in folded laundry.
*First photo by Charlottine
*Second photo by Fins