#BlackLivesMatter

The #BlackLivesMatter is happening in the US. It feels like a very very distant event for Taiwanese and yet it is happening right beside me. I’ve seen a lot of viewpoints from the Asian American community and that got me thinking: What am I feeling and thinking as a Taiwanese expatriate living in the US.

[The English version was translated and expanded on my original text. Click here to jump to the 中文版]

To be honest, I know next to nothing about racism when I came to the US years ago. I grew up in Taiwan all the way until I finished my master’s degree. I haven’t been hearing a lot of racism being talked about in Taiwan (not that Taiwan does not have it) and that I didn’t have a deep understanding of the US history, and quiet frankly, I still don’t today. It could be that I’m lucky or insensitive to it, but I also never deeply felt that I was being discriminated because of my racial background. The biggest discrimination I felt since I left Taiwan is the oppression on my country. Almost no one recognize Taiwan as a country and we need to somehow navigate these gaps as a Taiwanese individuals. #YourCountryIsNotACountry I can totally understand that some Taiwanese people, living 7500 miles away from the US, probably don’t have the context to build empathy towards what is going on here.

As I’m staying longer in the US, I get to know more people of different backgrounds. I hear more things about my friends, about what’s happening around me. And as I was rebuilding my identity now that I don’t live in my own identity bubble, I’ve read on more things. It’s really hard to not start to feel and think more deeply about racism. It has become a problem I might have encountered myself rather than some distant story. I’ve read on an article today “Black Lives Matter, Taiwan’s ‘228 Incident,’ and the Transnational Struggle For Liberation“ that really resonate with me deeply. Growing up in a country that is being alienated by the international community, I have never though about one day we will be drawing parallels from the 228 White Terror that happened in the dictatorship-era of Taiwan to the Black history and current events.

Taiwan has came a long way since the dictatorship era. We grew to be one of the modern democratic and progressive country in Asia. This did not happen without protests, so we should know very well ourselves. More recently, we had the Sunflower movement in 2014, we have many same-sex marriage protests throughout our history until we finally legalize it in 2019. We really should know what is going on. The Taiwanese society cares a lot about being “polite”. Our movements put a lot of emphasize on projecting that image. Everyone is very conscious about it. We would be fighting our way into the legislative yuan while self-patrolling to make sure no one is hurt, no cultural artifacts in the building was damaged and protesters clean everything up afterwards. Yes, those are all great, but is that really everything? We’ve felt deeply when Hong Konger was protesting for their freedom and saw the police brutality over there as well. It all got me to think about what exactly is a protest and where do I draw the line? In the face of the oppression and systematic discrimination that the black community having going through, these doesn’t matter. Minnesota officials also found that arrested looters are linked to the white supremacists groups. We have seen this too. There were gangsters trying to blend into our movements and try to incite violence and escalate too. We should understand what is going on. We’ve always felt that we were being discriminated on the international community and we should have the empathy here too as it is far more personal than ours.

I’m really glad that we have Taiwan. I may have not been living in Taiwan but seeing us gaining more momentum and visibility on the international stage really makes me happy. A few recent big policies are heading towards the progressive path. I felt really lucky and proud that I’m Taiwanese, but we are also far from perfect. We have not finished our own transitional justice for the 228 incident and we have our own racism problem towards migrant workers from the SEA countries too, not too mention casual racism that I still hear occasionally. I’m not saying every single Taiwanese person should care about all the things in the world, and that is perhaps not necessary. However, the very very least we can do, is to look at what is happening, and at the very least, trying to prevent it from happening in Taiwan too. And if you do live in the US, we should care. It’s unjust and we are not protected from racism at all.

中文版

最近幾天我想大家應該都知道,美國正在大規模的抗議 #BlackLivesMatter 的事情;是一個感覺離台灣人很遠,但卻正在我身邊發生的事情。

身為一個住在美國的台灣人,剛來美國的時候,說真的我對種族歧視的認識剛開始真的沒有很深。一方面在台灣這是比較少被提到的問題(並不是台灣就沒有這個問題),一方面我對美國的歷史脈絡認識的也不多。即便如此,黑人也好、亞洲人也好被歧視的事情依然時有所聞。也或許是我神經大條吧,我自己沒有深刻的感受過因為我的種族背景而被歧視過,一直以來我出國之後感受到最大的打壓大概是我自己的國家吧。 #你的國家不是國家 因此,我完全可以理解在台灣出生、長大的人,大概很難對這件事情有很深刻的體會。

但時間久了,認識的人變多了,聽到的事情變多了。隨著出國之後重新建立自己認同的過程,看的東西也多了。真的很難不對這些事情開始有感覺,會去思考。畢竟種族歧視對於一個住在國外的我來說,是個很切身相關的問題。而今天,看到了一篇文章真的有點打到我,”Black Lives Matter, Taiwan’s ‘228 Incident,’ and the Transnational Struggle For Liberation“ 這篇文章在講 228 白色恐怖跟現在 #黑人生命無價 的運動有什麼相似的地方。我從來沒有想過台灣的歷史跟美國與黑人的歷史能夠連結在一起,能夠有共鳴。有興趣的人建議讀讀。

難得說了這麼多話,我想說說我自己看到什麼:先說事情本身吧,一個手無寸鐵的黑人被壓制在地上,被警察用膝蓋壓著脖子不能呼吸長達好幾分鐘,中間一直求饒、求助說自己不能呼吸。然後,最後真的就這樣被壓死了。我想大部分的人都無法認同警察的作為。加上美國長期社會、警察對於黑人的不公平、暴力,民眾群起抗議,我想有在關心美國新聞的人應該不難想像這件抗議的產生,#BlackLivesMatter 運動今天也不是第一天。確實,看到有些抗議活動被暴力圍繞,有人砸店等等。但是,在我身邊 Bay Area 附近,也多得是很多城市抗議什麼大事也沒發生。甚至隔天也有志工在街上清理。而我同樣身為非主流群體的一員,雖然無法說是受到相同的迫害,真的可以理解為什麼會這麼生氣,也很支持這個抗議。

台灣這幾年的抗議運動、香港去年持續之今的反送中,都讓我重新思考到底抗議活動到什麼程度是合理的。在台灣,或許大家認知到我們自己的社會多在乎「要有禮貌」,大家非常非常注重抗議的形象。一邊衝進立法院,一邊還要自己組織糾察隊保護大家安全,自己整理好環境。這些都是非常好的事情沒錯,但我也可以體會在抗議的氣頭上,這些事情或許相對不是這麼重要。砸無關的店家,趁火打劫,這些我還是無法認同,但實際上,這些人是不是真的是抗議份子還很難說,Minnesota 官員也說抓到的打劫犯跟白人種族主義團體有關。這不是跟台灣大家在抗議的時候,很怕很小心自己被跟黑道份子連結一樣嗎?我們應該要更能夠拿自己的經驗將心比心才是,也應該要能夠用自己在國際上被長期歧視的心情感受。

想想,我們真的很幸運有台灣。這幾年雖然不在台灣,但看到台灣在國際上的能見度越來越高。幾個重大的國家政策也往進步價值的方向前進,說真的,我覺得我自己很幸運也很驕傲是台灣人。但台灣也不是完美的,說回228我們自己的轉型正義也還沒完成,而到現在也一直還是有歧視外籍勞工的現象。(最近不也才剛發生北車事件?)或許說要每個台灣人都關注世界大事是有點難,也沒有必要。不過我覺得至少,或許我們可以看看別人發生過什麼事情,避免台灣在未來也發生一樣的事情。