A Nation Lost In Separatism Could Be Healed by Inclusion

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Photo by Lindsay Chandler

Somehow, the word hate became an excuse for the inexcusable

This nation has a history steeped in separatism, tribalism, segregation, and white privilege. It existed when settlers pushed out American Indians, when slavery was ended yet racism never seemed to die out, when women fought for the right to vote, and where rage-fueled violence against anyone perceived as a threat because of their skin color or sexual orientation is conditioned into what it means to be American. It is one of the great travesties of a nation built on dreams, inclusion and immigrants.

sep·a·ra·tism /ˈsep(ə)rəˌtizəm/ noun

Lines in our Constitution protecting equal rights that were intended to be dignified human rights became a loose interpretation of equal rights for white men. For generations, America was meant to be the land of the free, but when you watch the hate crimes committed in this country, what does freedom really look like?For anyone watching the news these days, it’s either crimes against the Black and Brown communities, Asians,  Middle Easterners, LGBTQ communities, women, or those fighting climate change. It seems embedded in our culture that the only way to voice concern or unsolicited fear is to allow those feelings to turn into pure unchecked rage. We see it in institutions of education, corporations, big pharma, police departments, the military—but funny enough, we rarely see it in the arts.

Maybe it’s time we understand the value and power of non-violent creative expression.

So when we look at the theme of this month, what progress are we making as a nation—as a people—as a capable species—when we continue to push through information we know to be true (that racism/sexism/homophobia has NEVER served anyone well)? Why is reason or logic consistently being avoided?  How are we to have real purpose if we never practice the opposite of rage, the opposite of apathy, the opposite of fear? What are we learning if we refuse to evolve and accept we aren’t getting it right?
A Nation Lost In Separatism Could Be Healed by Inclusion

This is when I defer to my friend, Rob Lan. A truly exceptional commissioned sculptor and artist who produces fabricated works, he is Chinese American. I grew up with him all throughout my childhood and found myself in continual awe of his ability to be his intriguing misfit creative self, to innovate, and later … create commissioned masterpieces that would be shown in museums all around the world.

When all of the violence against Asians started filtering in and elderly men and women were being sucker punched in the streets, the vileness of such disgusting displays of ignorance made me feel sickened. And enraged. How had we allowed those in positions of power to continue the hateful rhetoric, to have generations poisoned by propaganda and conspiracy theories that were perpetrating violence against any person or groups of people unjustly labeled as “other”?

Rob believes that in order to counter lies, we must be willing to see truth. He also believes we need to reevaluate the use of the word HATE as if using the word excuses the actions to follow. Hate and love are feelings, indifference is the opposite of both yet crimes of passion have been committed in the name of love and hate. Maybe the issue isn’t hate. Maybe … It’s conditioning. And that is 100 percent on the shoulders of the people who use fear as a tactic to further their messaging of “Other”.  Below is a post Rob has given me permission to share, and I encourage readers to be a part of the conversation of inclusion.

“This is a long one.

I’ve been trying to organize my thoughts and feelings about the recent violence against the Asian/Women/Elderly community. I’ve seen people posting banners and memes saying Stop Asian Hate and while I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t think it’s a realistic goal to stop Hate, and it confuses people. While I understand it to mean stop acting out on your hate and hurting/killing people, someone could interpret it to mean stop feeling your hateful feelings. Even as I’m typing it in front of me, it seems reductive.To me, the biggest problem is America loves binary thinking, individualism, tribalism, and the ‘other.’ It’s pervasive and it’s sold to us in every aspect of our lives. Apple vs Android, Republican vs Democrat, Carnivore vs Vegan, Boomer vs Millennial vs Gen Z, Sportsball teams, Cilantro.

Brightly Colored Concrete Sculptures a First for Fabricator | Concrete DecorNo other country has more sports teams than the US. We’re sold the idea that we have to choose sides and that those sides define us. That we have to be in these tribes and think these certain ways.

But the most dangerous form of this thinking, is of White American as normal, and any other skin color American as Other. This thinking is pervasive in all parts of our lives, and we’ve all internalized it. We even label it officially. Asian American, African American, Persian American, Native American. NATIVE AMERICAN! Are you serious?

I recently heard on a podcast about cooking, ‘Are you cooking normal food, or Korean food at home?’ and they stopped to examine that statement. Immigrants have had to constantly learn, assess, and re-assess how to fit in, and succeed. How much to assimilate, what parts of the culture to give up, and what to celebrate. Even though I was born in this country, and have only ever lived in this country, I’ll never be seen as a ‘normal American’ by White America. It really sucked growing up in suburbia, but I managed to find really amazing, open hearted and accepting people to be friends with, who have become my family.

To be seen as Other in White America means when crimes against us happen, we know we can’t rely on law enforcement and the justice system. We know this because they’ve failed us, historically and continuously.
Jay Baker of APD said Robert Long had a really bad day, completely normalizing his actions. It was brought to light that he had posted images of shirts with an anti Chinese slogan, and his punishment? Removed from being the spokesperson. So APD’s message is, ‘We’re ok with White Supremacists, as long as we don’t get public backlash.’ It’s expected, but still disappointing.

The Equal Rights Amendment is still not ratified, after 100 years.

If you’re reading this and feel attacked, it’s not about you. You’re not the institutions that fuck us over. But you can be the voice that helps persuade the people that do fuck us over. You, the normal American.” — Rob Lan, Black Sail Fabrication

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