**生活在黑与黄之间 ** 作者 | Lin 翻译 | 小乐，凤洁 我曾经在亚洲和美国做过十几年记者, 报道过国际灾难和救援，调查过全球犯罪和移民政治，挑战过联合国，写过毒品交易，也忧虑过很多很多人的生死。但这是我人生里最难写的一篇文章。 …
作者：Lin 翻译：小乐，凤洁 来源：《成长合作社》公众号
后来在在开始上幼儿园托班，才发现那个小姑娘是比在在大几个月的“学姐” K。她的爸爸，也就是那个自行车行的主人Brian，总会骑着一个明亮的黄色自行车，放着轻快的音乐，风一般的踩着车接送女儿。后来也经常在学校碰到了K的妈妈，Lin, 发现原来她是会说中文的新加坡华人, 于是我们两个经常在学校碰到就用中文聊聊天，觉得她乐呵又爽朗的。
有一次公共假期，家长们约着一起带孩子去playdate, Lin也带着K和刚出生的弟弟去了。我坐在她旁边，听到她打电话，似乎是因为对方在yelp上为了一个5刀的零件弄错而留了差评，她提出了各种弥补的方法， 请求对方修改差评。声音里满是生活的疲惫。
伯克利警察局因为George Floyd案件发表公开信，表达这样的行为和他们的宿命和价值观相违背。然后我给他们写了信，问他们如果我丈夫的脖子被警察压在膝盖下，我是否应该打911寻求帮助。他们的发言人，同样也是一位非裔美国人在给我的回信里这么说 “事实上，我也没有一个好的答案可以给你。”
有一天，我和丈夫聊到各自童年最早的记忆。我的是音乐课，和朋友在公园玩儿，和家里人分享食物。而他最早的记忆是这样：“ 我四岁的时候，一家人去海滩。有一群男孩正在玩马可波罗（一种扔球游戏），他们说‘别和那个黑鬼 （Negro）玩。'”
两天后， 我在Safeway 买了一些寿司。付钱后，一个男人追着我出来，在马路中间拦住我，指责我偷窃并要求看收据。这是我人生第一次被人说从超市偷东西，尽管十几岁的时候我还真做过这样的事儿。当我在婴儿车的篮子里翻找收据的时候，心里暗暗庆幸亏好前两天刚和丈夫有那样的对话。后来，超市有两个认识我的黑人员工走了过来和我聊了几句，他们说：“我们理解你会很生气。哪怕在这里工作，我们都会保留午餐买的每样食物的收据。”
在不是黑人的家庭，家长鼓励孩子对警察友好。在我们家，两个孩子都知道当我们叫他们名字的时候要立刻回应。如果我们让他们停止说话，他们也会立刻做到。这听起来也许残酷。但当警察试图找我丈夫问题的时候，哪怕女儿简单的说 “我爸爸给我洗澡”， 都会被认为是不当行为。哪怕她只有四岁。同样的话从另一个孩子嘴里说出来也许又可爱又能让一个白人男性显得爱家，却可以被用来指控黑人男性是性侵犯。
当我处于战斗或逃跑状态 （fight or flight mode），我让丈夫带孩子立刻进家门。
有朋友建议他们高调宣传他们车行是黑人店主，在如今的Black Lives Matter的大潮中，会获得更多关注，然后对警局施压。Lin 拒绝了这样的建议，她说我们要的不是同情，而是公正。
Living Black and Yellow
I have worked as a journalist for over a decade, throughout Asia and the US. I have covered international disasters and recovery efforts, investigated global crime and immigration politics, challenged the United Nations, written about drug lords and had to think about the deaths of many, many people. But this is the hardest piece I have had to write in my life.
Why? Because we are going to talk about the lives of my husband and children and how my reality includes thinking of all the ways they might die before it happens.
I was born and raised in Singapore with friends, classmates, neighbors, and coworkers of all skin colors. In 2012, I moved to the US to attend UC Berkeley. As a graduate student, my thoughts were focused on learning in school and building my career. I had always thought of myself as a lifelong learner, it’s why I chose to go into journalism. I enjoy the expectation that I learn intensely every day. But nothing prepared me for my married life.
I am a Singaporean Chinese woman married to an African American man. Together we live in Berkeley, California, with our 4-year-old daughter and 2-year old son with no family close by. In the last week, I have:
● Asked my husband to board up our bicycle shop because of the presence of a caravan of looters
● Added additional security cameras to our shop
● Asked my husband if he would be safe going to work
● Lied to my daughter when she asked: “Will daddy come home alive?”
● Removed the fingerprint id ability on my mobile phone in favor of a six-digit code that the police cannot force me to surrender
● Written a letter to the Berkeley Police Department in response to their announcement that the murder of George Floyd went against their mission, vision and values. I asked if I could call 911 and expect help if my husband were under the knee of a police officer. Their spokesperson, also an African American man wrote in response: “The truth is: I don’t know if there is a good answer to your question.”
As a Chinese person in Singapore, I had the privilege of not noticing skin color. I didn’t notice mine, and I didn’t notice my friends’. I did not give much thought to racism and no one made it bother me.
I now know – Just because I didn’t think about it doesn’t mean my friends who smiled and laughed along with me were not traumatized by racism in Singapore.
I met my husband the first weekend I arrived in the US. At a green car event, there he was, sitting next to a row of bicycles. I was curious and asked him what he was doing. After he grumpily told me he was parking bicycles, I decided that since I would never see him again, I could go on asking whatever I wanted to know. I pulled up a chair and sat down. At no point did I think about race or notice that he was a black man. That is privilege.
When I later asked him what he thought of me during our first conversation, he said: “I was shocked that an Asian woman was talking to me. Asian women don’t talk to black men. They look away, sometimes walk away quickly.”
In five years since we’ve married, here’s what I’ve learned:
Black men have it harder
One day, my husband and I were talking about our earliest memories. Mine was of music lessons, playing with friends at the playground, and sharing food with family. This was one of his earliest memories: “When I was 4, our family went to the beach. I remember a group of boys playing Marco Polo (A game where kids throw the ball to each other and the kid in the middle tries to catch it). They said: “Don’t play with the n—-r. ”
As a child, my husband loved to learn, and as the youngest of five, learned fast. One day, he went to his teacher to ask for more work. He remembers his teacher saying: “What makes you think you’re better than the others? Go back to your seat.” He left that school, enrolled himself in a private school, and started working in a restaurant kitchen at 14 to put himself through school.
Black kids are not told they can be anything they want to be. They’re told to get back in their place.
One day, I was nagging him about all the grocery shopping receipts around the house. I asked him to throw them away and then I realized that sometimes, I just told the cashier that I didn’t need a receipt. My husband said: “I can never do that.”
Two days later, I bought some sushi from a Safeway supermarket. After paying, a man ran after me and stopped me in the middle of the road, accused me of stealing, and asked to see my receipt. It is the first time in my life that I have been accused of stealing from a supermarket, even when I did shoplift when I was a teenager. As I dug through the basket of my baby stroller, I thought to myself how lucky I was to have kept the receipt after having that chat with my husband. Later on, two black staff members of the supermarket who knew me came and shared: “We understand how angry you must be. We work here, and we keep the receipts of every single thing we buy during our lunch break to eat.”
Black people never throw away receipts.
Life and death
Most people have experienced one or two of the situations described above in their lifetime. They are annoying and hurtful. But when you’re black, they happen all the time, constant, unrelenting, and sometimes concurrently. Black men are constantly fighting to stay alive, to clear their names of false accusations and drugs planted by the police, and their families are constantly thinking of what they can to prevent them from escalating into life or death situations.
In any of the instances, if the police were called, my husband’s risk of being killed increases dramatically. Black Americans are 2.5 times more likely than whites to be killed by the police.
Having grown up in Singapore, I was taught to call the police if I were in danger. Today, the first thing I think of when I feel like I need the police is where my husband is. I am always conscious of the high possibility that engaging the police places my husband at risk. They can shoot him faster than I can defend him. Bullets fly faster than words.
In TV dramas and movies, wives often suspect that their husbands are having affairs when he comes home late from work. In our marriage, there is no room for distrust. I tell my husband to text me when he arrives at work, and before he leaves work. If he takes longer than usual to get home, my biggest fear is that he’s been stopped by the police. My anxiety builds up with each minute of the possibility of hearing that a black man’s been killed, or getting the call to go identify a body. I plan what to do with the children for situations like this. If you’ve never had this thought, you have privilege.
In non-black families, children are encouraged to be friendly with police officers. In our family, both our children know that when we call their names, they return to us immediately. And if we tell them to shut up, they do so immediately. This may sound harsh. But a police officer looking to find fault with my husband can claim inappropriate behavior if my daughter were to say something as simple as: “My daddy bathes me.” It doesn’t matter that she is 4 years old. The same story that is cute and makes a white man a “family man” can be used to accuse black men of being sexual predators.
Black children must learn to watch their mouths early. Their words can cost them their fathers.
When I first arrived in the US, I was sitting outside a popular downtown train station with my friend who was black when the police approached us. An officer first asked me: “Are you ok?”. I said that I was, and they then asked my friend for his ID. I watched in horror as they called in their colleagues to ask them to run his ID to check for outstanding warrants after he told them he had none. When they were done, they told him that he was lucky.
Luck keeps black people out of prisons. Not the truth.
Many of you have probably heard of the murder of George Floyd, a man who suffocated to death when a police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
Since watching the video, I have thought thousands of times what I should do if that were my husband. Yes, I look at that black man and my mind and body feel poisoned with fear that my husband could be next. A shop owner said he called the police on George because he tried to use a fake $20 bill. Till today, no one has proven that the $20 was fake, and as a wife to a black male business owner, I would not call the police over a $20.
Because not thinking that the police will kill people comes from privilege .
My Chinese privilege
The main difference between my husband and I, is that I am a cute Asian woman and he is a scary black man. People don’t take me seriously sometimes, but that doesn’t kill. Racism kills and people have absorbed Hollywood’s portrayal of black men as murderers and thugs. There is no room for the black man who is a community man, who teaches children to ride bicycles, who mentors at-risk youths, who started after-school programs to take care of teens in the Tenderloin in San Francisco, one of the areas many people identify as dangerous, dirty, and drugged out. Yes, my husband did all that.
In 2015, I had one of my most traumatic experiences in my life. We had just opened our bicycle shop in Oakland, California. What we did not know was that our landlord was a Korean racist who had a history of evicting small businesses of color. What started as harassment became so unbearable that we obtained a restraining order against him. He began sending thugs to the bike shop and I was scared every day as my husband worked in the shop alone. I had a job in San Francisco then.
One night, he stood outside our shop, yelling and screaming racist slurs, scaring our customers and keeping them away. As he stepped towards our shop, I stepped in front of my husband, between him and the landlord. I was just a woman and I carried my newborn baby on my body in front. All I knew was that this man might hurt my husband and get away, but he would think twice about hitting a woman with a baby.
That is my privilege.
A week later, he came to our shop when my husband was alone, and told him: “I can kill you with one hand”. He then strangled my husband. My husband quickly broke his chokehold and walked to the back of the shop to call the police. When the police arrived, the landlord said that my husband had hit him first and that he wanted to sue him for elder abuse. He did not know that we had security cameras.
His elder abuse charge was thrown out of court when the cameras showed him strangling my husband and then stalking him when my husband tried to walk away. In the end, the man was given probation for coming to our business and strangling my husband on camera.
If you don’t think this is a problem, please think about what would have happened to a black man if he had gone into an Asian business and strangled the owner.
The easy answer is: he would be dead. The owner could shoot him and claim defense. The police could shoot him because he was “threatening”. Whatever the method, the black man would likely not have lived. Not when George was killed for $20.
That is why we will never call the police because of a fake $20 bill. You are not welcome in our business, but no need for the police.
If this experience sounds like a simple ordeal, just know that I begged strangers to help me hold my newborn baby outside the courtroom in Oakland so I could go in and stand with my husband. No one should have to choose between their baby and husband, but I did because the man I love is black.
As soon as that traumatic experience ended, with about $100,000 in losses from having to close the business to deal with him and move to Berkeley, another major one started. There is no shortage of racists in America. There are great people, kind souls who understand our struggle as the only black-owned business in North Berkeley, the area we live in, but many also live with a lack of understanding that our reality is completely different from theirs.
When we look at the news and see Breonna Taylor killed in her sleep because the police barged into her house and shot her, we cannot rest well even in our homes. When we learn that her boyfriend was charged for murder because he fired back at the people who killed his girlfriend because they did not announce that they were the police, it acts as a law enforcement reminder that only white people can defend their home. Only white people can kill. Only white people can rest at night.
Two years ago, a white man spat in my face after I told him that we didn’t have a bike part he wanted. The next day, he came back and called my husband a n—-r, and said: “I hope you have good insurance because I am going to f— up your business, your wife and your baby.”
My husband called the police. When they arrived, they tried to arrest my husband and the white man quickly left.
Initially, the police officer told my husband he could not do anything. It was only when my husband said to the officer: “How would you feel, if I, a black man, told you I am coming after your business, wife and child? Your everything? You would send your whole squad after him,” that the officer said he understood now.
Just like America often is, many things are theatrical. The police told us they had arrested the man two days later. But four days later, I saw the same man walking down the street. I crossed the street as fast as I could but he saw me and began shouting racist slurs and cursed our family loud enough for everyone to hear. Later on, the police told us he had been let out because they couldn’t do anything. Freedom of speech belongs to white people.
To protect us, the police obtained a restraining order for our family and business against him. He was not allowed to come within 30 feet of us. We hoped it would be the end of everything.
But last year, as our family of four came home on Christmas Eve, we noticed someone following us. As soon as we did, he began shouting racial slurs, telling us how he was going to hurt and kill us. We were about 15 feet from our home and had our baby and toddler with us. I did the only thing I knew – I used my Chinese privilege to protect my family.
In fight or flight mode, I told my husband to take the kids and go in. Now.
My husband did not argue.
And I’m glad he didn’t.
I’m thankful he didn’t.
The fact is, in America, I am more likely to survive any interaction.
Alone on the dimly-lit streets, I faced the man who stood about 10 feet from me, shouting and gesturing as I called 911 and asked for help.
I kept my eyes on him. And when for a moment he looked away, I ran home.
From a window, I watched as he continued shouting into the night for 10 more minutes before leaving.
Later that night, a police officer stood in our living room while my daughter silently watched us talk and my son played with a toy truck. “Beep, beep, beep,” he said as he nudged the police officer’s foot with his truck. I glared at him.
As the officer took the truck and pushed it back and forth to play with my son, he said to my black husband: “It’s good you did not respond to him, even in defense, because you would have been arrested”
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