Underneath my yellow skin

Tag Archives: protest

No Flag, No Country

Eddie Izzard is hilarious, and he has several bits about being an empire and colonization. It’s funny because it’s apt, and he has the typical British self-deprecatory sense of humor. One of my favorites is one in which he tells how the UK became a great empire with the cunning use of…flags.

“I claim India for Britain.”

“You can’t claim us. We live here. Five hundred million of us!”

“Do you have a flag?” (Funny grimace.)

“We don’t need a bloody flag. It’s our country, you bastard.”

“No flag, no country; you can’t have one. That’s the rules that I’ve just made up! And I’m backing it up with this gun that was lent from the National Rifle (riffle, as he pronounces it) Association.”

(Back to being Eddie)

“And that was it. You know.”

 

I bring it up because of the brouhaha being stirred up over the American flag, which isn’t really the issue, even though it’s become the center of the drama.

Quick background: Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback, took a knee last year during the national anthem as a peaceful way of protesting the systemic injustices that black people, men in particular, suffer in this country. The backlash was swift, and he became a pariah to many white Americans. They wanted him to just play football and keep his politics out of their Sunday entertainment.

Fast-forward to this year and this past week. This president opened his gob and more stupid shit fell out. For whatever reason, he thought it would be a good idea to comment on the situation and said:

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners — when somebody disrespects our flag — to say, ‘Get that son of a b*tch off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!'”

Now, I’m not surprised that’s what he said because it’s who he is, but he didn’t have to open his mouth at all. He could have said nothing, and it would have been better than what he did say. Then again, that’s true of approximately 99% of what he says. Before I get into the meat of what he said and why it’s idiotic, the best response to this shitty statement is from Colin Kaepernick’s mother, Teresa. She tweeted:

OT: I really hate the habit of using an asterisk for one letter of a ‘controversial’ word (or more asterisks for more letters), especially in a written piece. Who the f*ck do you think you’re fooling? Like, people aren’t just putting in the g*dd*mn letters as they’re reading? It’s even worse than saying ‘n-word’. There’s a great Louis CK bit about this that says, “You’re just making me say the word in my head so you don’t have to be uncomfortable saying it out loud.” Anyhooooo….

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Sometimes Silence is Not an Option; What You Can Do to Protest

In my parents’ homeland of Taiwan, they lived under a dictator named Chiang Kai-shek. He fled from the Mainland and Mao in 1949 and took over Taiwan, where he ruled with an iron fist. Taiwanese people were treated like second-class citizens in their own country. They were not allowed to speak Taiwanese in school, and all the prestigious jobs were saved for members of the KMT. Since Chiang Kai-shek’s mission was to reunite with China, he didn’t care what he did to Taiwan or its people. My father was an ardent supporter of an independent Taiwan, and when he came to America to attend grad school, he didn’t keep his opinions to himself. I remember when I was a kid marching in the streets of downtown Minneapolis* with handmade signs, chanting for an independent Taiwan. Because of his actions, my father was blacklisted from his home country for decades and would have been jailed or ‘accidentally’ killed if he had returned.

I’ve heard stories of the horror of living under this man, which is part of the reason what’s happening right now in our country is sending chills down my spine. We Americans aren’t very good at understanding things we don’t experience, and most of us do not have any intimate knowledge of fascism. We read about the terrible things the Nazis did and think, “That would never happen here.” What we don’t understand, however, is that it didn’t start with concentration camps and the gassing of Jews. It started much as it’s starting here, with orders of who is and isn’t allowed in the country. “I’m just doing my job” isn’t never the moral option (akin to “I’m just following orders”), and less so now than ever before.

Let me tell you about my experience while flying in (and out) of America as a minority. Let me also preface it by saying that I realize I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to fly as much as I have. With that out of the way, let me say that flying is an unpleasant experience for me, especially when I was younger. When I first flew to Canada, a (male, white) coworker of mine told me quite firmly that I didn’t need a passport to fly into Canada. When I reached the Minneapolis airport, the ticket agent wasn’t going to confirm me because I didn’t have my passport. I showed her my driver’s license, and she said, “That doesn’t prove you’re an American citizen.” I argued with her for five to ten minutes, and she finally, reluctantly, allowed me to continue. Ironically, Canada was perfectly fine with me entering their country. Go figure.

My worse experience flying was to London to visit my boyfriend. The customs agents took one look at me with my permed hair, big hoops, and multicolored jumpsuit, and pulled me out of line. Meanwhile, next to me, there’s a big, dumb American saying he’s coming into the country to spend a lot of money, derp-di-derp.  The agents wanted to know why I was there, and, oh, is my boyfriend English? No. American? No. I told them he was Sri Lankan, and that was enough to get me pulled to a backroom. They asked me about what my parents did, what I did, and what my boyfriend did. They also pulled him into the back and questioned him for twenty minutes. Afterwards, he was furious with me. He said I should have just said I was visiting a friend. How the hell was I to know, though, that I would be questioned like that? It left a bitter taste in my mouth, I’ll tell you that much.


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