This is an interesting personal tale of someone learning that while racism is more a facet of humankind’s sinful nature and not exclusive to the American Experience. In fact, America is far more advanced in terms of race relations than many other cultures.
With each year that passed, I became increasingly aware of the morally fragile foundations of the lifestyle I enjoyed. I had believed that spiriting myself to Hong Kong would mean that I wouldn’t have to face racial discrimination anymore. Bewitched by the possibility of transcending the racial totem pole, I only later realized that I had merely relocated to the top, and the view wasn’t what I expected. Being brought up in the United States meant my standards for racial equality were forged in a culture built around the dissent, dialogue, and disruption that the First Amendment vouchsafes.
It was only after six years in Hong Kong that I began to understand why people leave their countries to come to the United States, and why it’s so difficult to repatriate. You can’t unlearn what you’ve learned or unsee what you’ve seen. Neither could I unlearn the promises of equality that I’d repeated every time I took the Pledge of Allegiance.
I had been running away for a long time. I had run away from being a “victim” of American racism to become part of the perpetrating class in Hong Kong. I had hid from the yellow face in the mirror and pretended, with my perfect English and my elite education, that I was someone else. I had tried to “go back to China,” only to find myself more American than I’d realized.