From love – fear, (a) foreigner’s view (on) racism.

David Chen,
New York, NY.

I grew up in China listening to artists like 50 cent, Tupac, Snoop dogg (lion), and Jay-Z. I have every one of Jay-Z’s songs memorized and for a Chinese kid, that wasn’t easy. For as long as I can remember, I was fascinated by African American (is this the politically correct term?) culture. As I started high school, I transitioned into R&B with Ne-Yo, Chris Brown and Jason Derulo. Back then, I dreamed of being black. In my head, blacks were talented at music, sports, and being “cool”.

Fast forward a few years, my parents decided to send me to college in the U.S. I found myself in Michigan, and my first roommate was an African American. He was one of the kindest and most loving people I’d ever met. He treated me like a brother, and I thought of him as my brother. He’d always ask me why I’m try to sound like him. It wasn’t intentional, I had learned most my English from rap songs.
After spending two years with my roommate, I became more and more involved with the African American community. I loved it, everyone I met was as kind as him.

Later I moved New York, and during my two years here, my perception was somewhat crushed. In my two years here, I had been robbed twice, and chased with a knife. The perpetrators were all African American. I started to develop a fear of the blacks in New York, I would walk away, from blacks at night, and would almost always speed up my pace. Subconsciously I felt horrible, I felt guilt, I felt shame, because I was slowly becoming the person I did not want to be. I felt like I was racist.

Recently my old roommate got married, and I was reminded of the wonderful times we spent together. I wish I could be that guy again, but I still cannot control the fear that I feel.


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