It’s fall y’all! Happy Fall Break! It’s still 2020, but in some ways we’re getting out a little more and moving towards a new normal. Instead of heading to FL like we usually do for fall break, we decided to head up to northern AZ and take in the cooler temperatures and just get away from the valley. We’ve had an amazing time relaxing, playing games, doing yoga, riding bikes and just hanging out together. It’s been so good for us a family.
In working towards completing my 250 mile goal for Great Cycle Challenge for Children’s Cancer Awareness Month, I was able to mountain bike for the first time (yay!) and count rides with the family. I noticed I was at 273 just two miles shy of 275, so bumped up my goal and headed out for a solo ride to get finish my challenge. I was enjoying the scenery and exploring the neighborhood. We’re in the current election season, and there are Trump/Pence signs out everywhere and no Biden/Harris signs to be seen. I was immediately reminded of the Time article: How I Came to View the American Flag as a Threat by Damon Young. The night before my ride, in the first presidential debate, the President refused to denounce white supremacy and told the proud boys to “stand down.” As I noticed the increasing number of Trump/Pence signs instead of continuing to enjoy my ride, I began to be on alert. There weren’t many people out and about, but a good number of trucks on the road. I wondered if approaching trucks were going to stop me. I started to question if I should have taken this ride in the neighborhood alone. That night instead of celebrating my big achievement, my husband and I had a discussion on if my reaction was warranted. He commented that as a white man he has no inkling as to what that may be like to be in my shoes. When we’ve visited other countries, he acknowledged that even when he’s the minority he is still in a position of power. I may be overreacting, but it stems from experience.
I am first generation Filipina American. I grew up in a military household. My Father is now Retired Navy and he proudly served his time. I was 9 when we moved from our overseas station to FL. We landed in CA and made it a cross-country road trip and visited family and friends along the way. In Gulfport MS, as we were trying to meet up with family friends, we encountered a random biker who yelled obscenities at our family filled van. I don’t remember his exact words but I remember the anger he directed towards my dad and our family. He followed us for a few miles and it was enough to rattle my dad; we never met up with our family friends that trip, we just continued on towards our new home. I had a fear of men on motorcycles for a long while and this was engrained in my memory as my first experience with racism.
Decades later, using public transportation here in Arizona, I had another experience with racism. It was a Friday night, and I was leaving work and meeting friends for dinner before a movie. I was taking the bus to our meeting location and was reading a fantasy novel. I happened to sit across from an elderly gentleman and he kept trying to engage me in conversation about the novel I was obviously trying to read. I was raised polite so I talked to him for a few minutes and after awhile, I tried to politely disengage myself from the conversation and continued to read my book. When the bus arrived at his stop, the gentleman stood up, glared at me and said something to the effect of “you should leave, you awful slant eyed chink.” I was mortified and in tears. No one on the bus said anything, and I know he yelled directly at me.
I had hope in 2008 and continued to be hopeful. I was nervous and disappointed in 2016. In this current environment, I don’t understand why we have to be so divided and why our current administration continues to double down on divisiveness and lack of kindness. While I know not all supporters of the current administration are bad people, I’m frustrated that their privilege has blinded them to the stresses that others have experienced (or are experiencing). Either that or they know what they are standing behind, they’ve always been the bully and they truly can’t see it any other way.
I can’t stand by quietly, my kids and I belong in this country. Vote in this election. I’m doing what I can in 2020 to help encourage a future that is more compassionate for my children.