Sunday, October 22, 2017

when words stick.

With the recent news of actress Charlyne Yi's recollection of an uncomfortable encounter with a fellow actor, I've been thinking a lot about those moments we often run into in a day that stay with us – and perhaps don't resonate as deeply with the other person.

Perhaps David Cross doesn’t remember. I don’t know. But what I can say is that even the most well-intentioned people will unknowingly offend, and even if they don’t remember it, their words or actions may make a lasting impact.

I’m sure the person last week who mis-identified me as two different Asian-American women in one breath, and then waved his hand and said, “Oh, whatever” when I corrected him, didn’t think he was saying anything wrong.

I’m sure the person earlier this year who said I should “pick an Asian word” to rename the site I work for to didn’t know how offensive his suggestion was.

I’m sure the person last year who asked how I got my job without connections or “the right academic background” didn’t mean to imply I wasn’t qualified. I'm sure the person who used to write for us who's been going around telling people how young and inexperienced I am – simply because I had caught him taking advantage of a certain system, and did not like being called out on it – doesn't realize that his words would get back to me, and therefore serve as a reminder of how I am not fit for the job I know that I earned.

All of that, and more, adds up. It’s exhausting. I’ve honestly lost patience. I will joke and deflect in many situations to try and keep myself from snapping, but sometimes, it’s not possible. And then I worry that tactic makes the behavior OK –  as if my quip or calm, “Thank you for your suggestion, but we’re not going to rename the site in that manner” response doesn’t get the message of “This is not OK” across. And then I feel guilty for not calling it out, and burdened that I have to, and upset when I do lose my cool.

And I’d dare suggest I’m not the only one who has ever felt this way.

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