Reshaping Traditions was the theme for this year’s People of Color Conference, held in Boston, Massachusetts. During endless attempts last week to live blog the event, my wireless connection eventually died. I did manage, however, to salvage some notes.
[Frank was kind enough to pose with me for this photo after signing a copy of his book, Yellow: Race in America Beyond Black and White.]
Here are my unedited notes:
Thursday, November 29, 2007
I just finished listening to a keynote address by Lawyer, and Activist, Frank Wu. He addressed so many issues on the topic of race. "Why are you obsessed with race and ethnicity? Their inquiry is sincere. I’m not obsessed. I don’t go to work saying here I go, I’m Asian American.
He then went on to share an encounter he had with a young boy when he on his way to work. "This young kid, while I was walking to work, when he saw me, challenged me to a fight and said, "Chi Fung Challenge ME Kung Fu." He’s a kid and doesn’t realize how painful it was for me. He went on to say, "How can you see through those eyes?" A stereotype is like following a script – it’s how people think we’re supposed to behave. So I told the kid, if you’re going to diss me, please get some new material.
I have to admit, Frank was much nicer than I would have been.
Frank closed his speech with the following advice.
"It’s important for us to educate our young people, as the face of the nation changes. We will, in about 2050, have 1 racial identity. Friends who marched during the Civil Rights Movement – I believed them, but why are we still at it? Why do we need these programs? Can’t we all get along? Mary lou Hamer said, "I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired." Diversity is like democracy – a process not an outcome. It’s a process not an outcome. We march and we march again. We will have hope and optimism and the margins are making a new mainstream. We will make good on the promise of a diverse democracy."