The neighborhood drug dealer

Staying in Omelas


A black sports car sidled up in the lane next to ours like a stately viper, windows heavily tinted, metal accents glinting viciously in the sunlight. It stuck out like a sore thumb among the dusty and rusted jalopies that trundled down the road. Before I could even comment on its appearance, the door clicked by my ear. My grandma had locked the door, and when I looked over, I knew why: The driver of the sports car was an African American man.

Silence stilled the air as my grandma rolled up the windows. The green light finally allowed her to exhale as she shot away from the intersection and from her racist anxieties.

“He got the money for that car by selling drugs,” she explained, conviction strengthening the words that wobbled with age. And there was no reason to argue, when she was still rooted in antiquated principles. She was old, had old beliefs, and that was that.

A decade later, in a city far wealthier, my friend received a text from her father the night of the 2016 presidential election, crowing about how our new president would finally put an end to those dirty, dark job stealers and terrorists. This sentiment was echoed in my own family reunions that silenced my cousins and me to awkward side-eyes over the food.

The United States has had a deplorable history of discrimination against racial minorities, a rift typically drawn as a generalized “us against them” paradigm — a white-American-versus-all-minorities scenario that idealistically unites people of color against some ambiguous perpetrator of oppression. What any person of color can attest to, however, is the hierarchy of race within and the debilitating prejudices that it implies. Specifically in the East Asian community, Latinx, African Americans and any person of another minority race are confined to a lower level of this artificial stratification.

The trend seems to suggest that this ideology thrives primarily in older generations and thus has been uncomfortably chalked up by westernized descendants to cultural differences. South Korea has been praised for its astonishing rise to economic superpower in 60 years and has made its presence known through industry and media. But its culture stands in striking disparity to its achievements, as seen through persisting doctrines of homophobia and racism.

The stratosphere of television has allowed some to step forward and reveal the blatant racial discrimination that runs rampant in many Asian countries. In fluent Korean, a graduate student from Nigeria recounted how hotel owners refused him a room because he was “dirty.” Subway riders prevented him from sitting near them and reprimanded his friend for associating with him. Even while sympathizing with his experiences, the hosts of the variety show suggested that the fault was in the vocalization of racism and not in the principles behind it.

The familiarity of the everyday is not spared. Comments like my grandmother’s and the relegation of underpaid Latinx workers to laborious and menial positions in Asian-owned businesses express the normalization of racial prejudices and our apathy regarding their continuance. We have become so familiar with these scenes that we ignore their racist undertones, undermining collective efforts to bridge the disparity in treatment and opportunity between all races.

I stand ashamed, not only by the enduring forms of discrimination but also by the way my peers and I have offered leniency for them on the basis of cultural conservatism.

Minority races can no longer use that as an excuse. We can no longer use any excuse to justify the wrong. By pardoning racist sentiments, we paint nations of people as ignorant, as isolated from the cross-culturalization that accompanies economic growth. We brush internal racism under the rug, hoping to extinguish the evidence but merely perpetuating the very issue we claim to be fighting against.

Transformation of minority-minority perception doesn’t arise from flagrantly discrediting these outdated beliefs. My fellow brothers and sisters know that would get you only a smack upside the head and a sharp word for doing so. Instead, we need to educate and share and show each other that every individual has a role in the common battles we all face. A slow process of change begins only after a realization and a resolution against complacency.

This is not an imposition of Western beliefs. How hypocritical it would be to consider it so, when the United States is still mired in the products of lingering racism. It is a naive hope, but a hope nonetheless, of cultivating an open-eyed society that resists indoctrination and views each of its members with equal respect.

Sarah Heo writes the Friday column on the semblance of security. Contact her at [email protected].

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  • lspanker

    Hmm, let’s review this one more time: You’re upset that I question the author’s conclusion that allegedly racist behavior of an immigrant is proof positive that “America is racist”, yet can’t refute it with facts or logic, start calling me a “racist” and ‘bigot”, then bring Zionism into the discussion as well as your paranoia that you’re being censored by the mod, even though every one of your posts is still here. Yep, you’re a kook alright, but keep posting… you might be able to dig yourself a deeper hole.

    • originalone

      You just can’t seem to bring yourself to except that it’s true, from her perspective as well as any others. From your vernacular, as well as the denial of racial bigotry in the U.S.A., is the problem, not hers. Ethnic cleansing, what you’re really saying, yet want an argument that agrees with your point of view. You also call me names, as well as brand me as a lefty, kook, among the mindset you have. You come across as a right wing nut job racial bigot who refuses to state why you’re right. As for the back & forth, you only repeat what the other members of you collective agree upon. So enough of this, we’ll agree to disagree.

      • lspanker

        the other members of you collective agree upon, BLAHBLAHBLAH..

        Done yet, fruitcake? Funny how you’re desperate to put arguments in the mouths of others when you can’t even support your own.

        • originalone

          You’re the one who should be done. You just can’t take it when you’re call to arms is challenged, much the same as if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Try a little nicety, but then you’d lose the standing of your elitist ethnic cleansing. Oh by the way, why are you so afraid to answer the simple question of Are you an American Indian? Because if you’re not, then you’re an outsider, immigrant too.

          • lspanker

            You never addressed the original point, which was the only one relevant to the conversation, so why should anyone care about yours?

          • originalone

            Au contraire, I responded to your ragging on the author and your attitude toward others on the subject matter. You started going all over the spectrum, to which I fed you various thoughts, but it’s your vernacular that gives you away. Are you an “American Indian” – “Native American Indian” – to keep it in perspective, or you’re an immigrant and should go back to your country of origin, by your own standard. That attitude of yours, is exactly what the author spoke of, you just don’t have the courage to except it. That’s why this country is messed up in so many ways. I might add, such attitudes range across all the ethnicity’s in the U.S. today, started by the European Immigrants who first settled here. Like it or not, you come across as a racially bigoted ethnic cleansing fool. Sorry if you’re not mature enough to except that portion of your personality.

          • lspanker

            Blah, blah, blah. Here’s the entire discussion in a nutshell:

            The author asserts that the reason her immigrant mother made some racist comment is because America is a racist country.

            I suggested that perhaps America isn’t such a racist country, the reason her immigrant mother made some racist comment is because some immigrants are racist.

            You say that I’m a “racist” and “bigot” because I made such a comment.

            Once again, you’re not interested in facts or logic. You’re just some dim-witted little lefty programmed to make some Pavlovian response whenever someone dares disagree with some tenet of your bizarre and unproven belief system – end of story.

          • originalone

            Couldn’t have put it better, your description of yourself fit you to a tee. By by now.

          • lspanker

            I see you couldn’t refute my argument. Figures, but thanks for reminding us all of the demonstrably low level of intellectual ability needed to be a left-winger.

          • originalone

            You surly are fixated on typecasting here. So, without you answering the questions I’ve asked you, then you must be affiliated with the extreme right wingers. Wasting all this time posturing, casts you as a millennial or perhaps just out of high school, trying to fit in with the big kids. It’s obvious you aren’t a Native American, so that leaves you in the lessor category. I know, it’s hard when you’re at the awkward stage before maturity, but at least you are surrounded with plenty of company.

          • lspanker

            You surly are fixated on typecasting here.

            Oh,STFU already. You’re the one ready to smear people as racists because they dare take exception to some ill-considered rant.

            So, without you answering the questions I’ve asked you, then you must be affiliated with the extreme right wingers.

            No, I’m a Cal Grad and alum who takes some interest in what’s happening at my alma mater these days.

            As far the rest of your latest rant, it’s not to be taken seriously. I stand with my assertion that immigrants can be racists as well as anyone else. That doesn’t make me a racist whatsoever. Your hysterical efforts to pin that title on me, however, are indicative of the fact that you lack either the mental capability or the emotional stability (possibly both) to present a reasoned argument to back your assertion. Now why don’t you go back to breaking windows or lighting trash cans on fire, or whatever else it is you do when you can’t get your way?

          • originalone

            You really wear many hats here. But your vernacular betrays you as less than what you call yourself. It’s your refusal to except that your a racist, calling me names such as you do, resorting to tell me to STFU out of frustration that your situation that you’ve created, isn’t going the way you planned. An alumni? The way you’ve been taunting, refusing to answer, parroting the P.R. of the right wing, pretending you are an oracle, even throwing in the trash cans, breaking windows, etc., a real life Don Quixote, projecting your own insecurities and immaturity upon MOI. You probably didn’t even graduate, thinking that you were too good. It really doesn’t matter, for this has gone on way too long. Don’t bother wasting yours, mine or others time, with your bad manners/habits. Suck it up, you’ve lost the high moral ground with your consistent off the wall speech. You and I will never agree on this, but we do agree to disagree.

          • lspanker

            You really wear many hats here. But your vernacular betrays you as less than what you call yourself. It’s your refusal to except that your a racist

            “Except”? No, I don’t accept I’m a racist, because I have made no such statements that any logical, reasoned person can point to as such. I know you certainly can’t, because you have posted at least a dozen times without any SPECIFIC reference to anything I have said.

            An alumni?

            BSChE 1995. Now please do tell me about your credentials, I’m sure we could all use a good laugh.

          • originalone

            Master of Science in Sociology, Cologne, Germany, retired. Above your pay grade. So go have your laugh, it’s been interesting, though not educational. The argument is over, no need to respond.

          • lspanker

            Master of Science in Sociology, Cologne, Germany, retired. Above your pay grade.

            Es tut mir Leid – Soziologie, Nein Danke! :Oo

      • lspanker

        You also call me names, as well as brand me as a lefty, kook, among the mindset you have.

        Because you’re not capable of offering a reasoned argument to back your views. You’re quick to start accusing others of racism and bigotry because you can’t actually deal with specific arguments, which had been made quite evident through the course of this thread.

  • ShadrachSmith

    It’s a jungle out there, everywhere, get used to it.

  • Left Unsaid

    Ask the asian residents of SF public housing how their AA neighbors treat them.

  • originalone

    Curious, did you look in the mirror when you made your comment?

  • lspanker

    This is not an imposition of Western beliefs. How hypocritical it would be to consider it so, when the United States is still mired in the products of lingering racism.

    Ever consider that maybe the problem isn’t the United States but the people we let in?

    You analysis and blaming of American culture for the racial prejudices of immigrants is amateurish, ignorant, and insulting. America didn’t create racism or bigotry, there’s plenty of it all over the planet. How about growing up, going out in the real world, and seeing firsthand the attitudes of people in other countries before subjecting us to your ignorant, nonsensical diatribe?

    • originalone

      My comment was directed toward you.

      • lspanker

        Your comment makes no sense. America is not to blame for the petty prejudices people bring from somewhere else.

        • originalone

          Obviously, you’re too young to know what you’re sprouting. As for the sentence of the real problem we let in, count yourself in that mix too, unless you’re American Indian, then you have a case?

          • lspanker

            Obviously, you’re too young to know what you’re sprouting.

            Please tell me why it’s America’s fault why some non-white immigrant person harbors racist sentiments towards another non-white person. I’m sure you have no logical argument to explain that, so I have already anticipated your blathering response.

          • originalone

            Your words, not mine. Quite pompous, you are. I never said it was Americas fault, but you want to argue your own opinion. Being logical has nothing to do with it, but then, it seems the concept escapes you. Sit down in front of a mirror and play both sides, you’ll have better luck, though you may not realize the answer. By the way, are you of a political bent, if so, care to share such?

          • lspanker

            In other words, you’re not capable of stating a particular position on a subject and defending it, only foaming and flailing like a ranting loonie. Typical lefty, full of insults and resorting to virtue signaling instead of offering an intelligent argument.

          • originalone

            Au contraire, it is you, for your refusal to state your political bent, instead resorting to the low road of the troll in your vernacular, eliminates the possibility that you’re not a racial bigot. There is no argument with such. Have a nice day, you lose the race.

          • lspanker

            Well, thanks for confirming that you either have no argument to make, or are demonstrably incapable of articulating it here. Once again, I ask why America should be blamed for the prejudices of some immigrant person, and you’re incapable of answering it.

          • originalone

            Like every low road troll, you have to have the last word, hence your repeating yourself. So, again, here’s your chance, to make your ego feel better. It still doesn’t change the fact that you’ve shown yourself to be a bigot. By the way, as I said earlier, unless you’re an American Indian, then you’re also an immigrant from heritage.

          • lspanker

            Like every low road troll, you have to have the last word,

            Sorry, but I’m not the troll here – YOU are. You can’t offer any reasoned rebuttal to my argument, even after 6 posts, so instead you call me a “racist” and a “bigot”. Too bad you’re a bit behind the times, or you would recognize that those type of unsubstantiated accusations are evident to more and more people of someone who has no real argument to make.

          • originalone

            How about telling the truth, i.e. “ethnic cleansing” like the present Israeli Zionists? Or will this be censored also by the moderator? Quite obvious, this really isn’t the open blog, now is it?

          • lspanker

            I think it’s quite clear now that you are a kook.

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