On Racial Discrimination & Stories

alone girl hi

Yesterday, another one of my stories was rejected.

Unlike the last rejection, which, incidentally, also plummeted me into despair, this was, in my humble opinion, unaccounted for.

In my last rejection, I could see the flaws of my story, it’s inadequacy. I knew what I had done wrong, what I could have done better. But this time, the winning entries were placed on the website, for all to see, and I could not help thinking that compared to my story, they were dull and unoriginal, that I had been cheated of something, somehow.

Of course, the case could very well be that my story was terrible; but, deep down, I knew this was not so. This was the best piece I had written so far, the most strange and unusual; yet other stories, about heartbreak and loss, cliché and overdone (written by other teenagers my age, mind you, not adults) won over mine, some of them even poorly-written. And I could not help feeling bitter, deep inside, as a result.

For this incident only spawned more writhing tendrils of self-doubt, and brought the shadows at the back of my mind to its forefront. Perhaps I am overestimating myself, perhaps the story was no good after all, and I was simply delusional in thinking I had been discriminated against in any way.

Or not. It is strange, growing up as a racial minority in Australia – you are never sure, when you are treated unfairly, whether it was not personal, and you just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person, or if it was because you looked different, and they didn’t like that.

If your name sounded different, perhaps, on a short story entry.

I could not help noticing that every single one of the stories which did gain a place contained at least one character with vivid blue eyes, and names like “John Kent” and “Elizabeth Avalon”, and were written by “Edwards” and “Mullivans”, and that in my story the characters were ethnic, though it was not explicitly stated.

And I felt angry. Deeply, deeply angry, to my core, that my art, which is so great a part of me, would be disregarded this way due to discrimination. It was an anger many people who live in the Western world feel when they do not live up to the ideals of Whiteness in a society of white hegemony. A pale imitation of the kind of anger so many black men in America must feel when their people are shot, out of sheer racial prejudice, and are told their lives are less worthy. One that burns and flickers quietly, at their core. In Australia, the situation is much worse than in countries like the US, or even the UK – just turn on any television channel, and you are treated to a parade of advertisements and shows depicting smiling blonde-haired and blue-eyed individuals, with not a single racial minority among them, never mind the fact that 26% of our population was born overseas.

If I were to ask them outright, I am sure they would deny that they had disregarded my story on any racial grounds. With a smile, they would probably tactfully state that judges choose according to personal taste, and to try my best elsewhere. That perhaps it was the story and the writing itself which was not good enough in their eyes, rather than the writer.

But I know better. It is not a case of blaming my own failures on racial discrimination; this story, which I wrote, was original and special, and, well, better than the winning entries by the other young men and women. This might make me sound conceited, but I’m not: I simply know good art when I see it, and this time, probably for the first time, I did make good art.

It irks me, that’s all, that some middle-aged fellow who judged the stories is probably sitting around, enjoying his lunch in the sunshine, while I spent the last half an hour curled up in bed, in the darkness, quietly weeping tears of anger and tears of sadness.

But the sadness does not do anything. Emotions do not change things; only actions do. So rather than mope any further, after writing this post, I will expand upon and edit the rejected story, a lovely, little story, like a tiny star winking in my heart, which gave me such pleasure to write.

And once I have done that, edited and rewrote, over perhaps a period of a week or so, or more, I will send it out again, this time to somewhere else. I will not listen to my step-aunt, who, after reading one of my pieces, told me, very politely, I had printed it from somewhere on the internet, that it wasn’t mine at all because someone as young as me could not have written or imagined such things, let alone a female teenager of Asian descent.

Looking at history, were not the greatest writers and creative minds of our age Caucasion males and females, or, with the likes with Miyazaki and Ishiguoro, Asian males? There is no-one in the writing world who I can look up to, no Asian female writer who wrote strange, unusual fantasy stories, and gained a place in the upper echelons of literature. To some this might not be important; after all, our race is simply phenotype, a sign of genetic diversity; but it is very important to have role models in life, whether you are a shy girl living in Australia writing stories in her room or an actress in Hollywood carving a place for herself in cinema history.

But, that is okay: I shall be the first. This is not some false conception of grandiosity; I know it in my heart, know it as only as an expression of the universe can know things. If you believe it, you can achieve it, and I do believe.

And if my next piece is rejected also, whether on grounds of race or age or inadequacy, I will write another one, and edit it, and send it out again, and I will write another one, and edit it, and send it out again, and I will write and write and write, for writing is something I can do as long as I am thinking and breathing, it is my blood and my life, it is everything, and no-one can take that away from me.

My heart is hurt, deeply, deeply hurt, for injustice, especially racial injustice, pierces me more deeply than anything else. It seeps like black poison through my body, staining my organs and sinew. Sensitivity is a liability when it comes to dealing with failure, or poor treatment. But this is not over; I believe in myself, and I believe in the stories within me.

No matter how much other people may tear me down, strangers and relatives, or even the little black crow of self-doubt perched on my shoulder, I will keep on going, and in the end, I will triumph.

Those endure, succeed.

Wish me luck. And for those of you who do believe in me, whether you are reading this or not, I thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I won’t let you down.

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14 thoughts on “On Racial Discrimination & Stories

  1. Let us know where we can read your story if it gets published. I am really interested.

    And I, for one, always wanted dark hair and dark brown eyes. I’m so jealous of Asian hair. I had a Japanese friend in High School whose hair made these perfect, large waves and ringlets, but she always straightened it. I will never understand. But it’s always so strong, and something about dark hair appeals to me.

    Instead, I have slowly browning (and breakable) hair with light-colored eyes (I can’t tell if they count as gray, green or blue – makes forms hard to fill out). So I once thought, I’ll just have to marry a man with dark eyes and dark hair, and then there will at least be a chance to have pretty dark hair and eyes on my kids. Nope. I just happened to pick someone of my own rare color combo as me and now all of my children (assuming I have any) will have blond hair that eventually turns brown and light-colored eyes, even though I am the odd one who never cared for Aryan coloring. Particularly blond hair. I don’t know what it is that I have never liked about blond hair, but I just don’t. I think it looks boring.

    • Aw, thanks – I promise to proclaim extremely loudly on my blog when I get published. 😉

      I only mentioned eye and hair colour in particular due to the context of my experience, as usually only those of Caucasian descent possess them, which is then sort of used as a ‘tool’ to aid in cementing white dominance, etc. in society – I mean, how many books have we read where they praise his ‘blue’ eyes, so ‘blue’ you could ‘drown in them’ and so forth? Or how many women in novels, lauded as creatures of peerless beauty, have blonde or red hair and green eyes? I mean, blue eyes are beautiful, white skin is beautiful, but, like you said, so are dark eyes, dark hair and dark skin.

      Race is a very sensitive topic for many people, as it can sometimes bring up feelings of guilt or discomfort, and people usually try to skirt around it. Unfortunately ignoring the problem means people remain oppressed, so I think it’s better to speak up than not (this is just a random aside here, unrelated to your comment).

      However, in regards to your comment, I personally think all colours are beautiful, blue eyes and brown eyes, dark hair and light hair, so you should not feel any desire to be different from what you already are, for we are all human, and we are all beautiful, no matter what shades of the rainbow we come in. It’s just that our society doesn’t always adopt this mindset, and people get hurt.

      Lots of love. ❤

  2. Hello.

    Good! Keep writing. I can feel you’re becoming stronger, more resilient to rejection and adversities. When you reach a state of mind such as receiving approval or being reject no longer bothers you, then you’ll be ready. I believe. Because in order to attain mastery, you first have to practice a lot and fail a lot. Besides, the scars acquired along the time will heal and make you mentally stronger, immune to petty judgements and capable of extrapolate your creativity.

    I don’t think I can add anything else, you probably already know your path. Stay on it. Just a reminder: don’t look at the trophies when you are competing. Focus in the process. Be specific about how you can improve your writing and practice. Make tests. The general picture about what constitute a good story is the writer’s experience that surmount along the journey. It’s a gradual increment which causes great impact in the long run. Don’t look for rewards. Trust in the process. Become the process.

    Thank you.

    • Thank you for writing this. You’re perfectly right and reassuring as always. What I can’t get over at the moment, though, is that it really was a bloody good idea (take my word for it: it was the kind of idea that could “make” a writer’s career), one that I might even turn into a book in the distant future, and the short story was more of an outline of the ENTIRE book, in condensed form (silly of me, wasn’t it?), so now I’m worried that it will be stolen, and written and published by someone else later on, and my burst of inspiration was for nothing. I can just imagine picking the book up in a store, and reading the blurb, and then feeling a terrible sinking feeling in my stomach and wanting to die. I’ve lost sleep over it, alternatively berating and comforting myself. Still, they can’t write it they way I would, I guess. But it’s deeply disheartening, nonetheless, and I’m deeply miserable about it; it was mistake to send it there. A big mistake. Ah, well. We must push on, regardless.

  3. I belive in you! 🙂
    Just wanted to tell you that I’m very happy to read that you believe in yourself too and are not going to let them bring you down. I sincerely think you’re an amazing writer and I believe in you from the bottom of my heart. And I know they’re going to see that too. I have no doubt that you’re going to get published someday, though you don’t need their approval to be a good writer. I’ll be here to read the story when it gets published.
    Good luck ❤

    • Thank you, so much, for your lovely and kind words and for bringing a smile to my face. Honestly, it just gives me hope, knowing through this blog that there are still kind people out there. Lots of love. ❤

  4. Are you Chinese? I am. 😉
    BTW, I’m really interested in reading your story. I’m sure it’ll be great. 😀 And nothing irks me more when someone doesn’t believe I can accomplish something, like how your step-aunt thought you plagiarized the work. 😦
    But stay strong. One day, you will prove all of them wrong, your step-aunt and the judges. 🙂
    Personally, I don’t let racism against my race bother me. I’m Chinese and I’m proud of it. Who says Caucasians are prettier than anyone else? Who says blonde hair is better than dark hair? No. In the end, we are all the same. Cliched, but, yes, we are all beautiful just the way we are.

    • I am. 🙂 And thank you for your lovely and kind words. I agree: I think everyone is beautiful, only the media distorts our minds and creates rifts and bitterness and inequality between people, which is a disappointing reality we must tackle and fight against as best as we can. I embrace my Asian heritage wholeheartedly also; I agree, we are fine just as we are – it’s just that what we are can sometimes make us more or less equal than others in society’s paradigm.

  5. Oh I’m so proud of you! I remember hos distraught you felt after your first piece wasn’t picked and I’m so glad that this experience showed you as clear as day that only you can give your work its due appreciation. This was the reason behind those months of feeling crushed and hopeless. I can already sense a new you, a brighter and bolder you that fears not failure. It’s only when you don’t fear to fail greatly that you’d achieve greatly.

    • Thank you. Your words touched me more deeply than you know. Thank you. You’re perfectly right: only a lack of fear of failure will lead to success. I will remember that, in the more than likely hard years to come. Lots of love.

      • You’re the most gifted young lady I’ve seen, and so much wiser than your 17 years. I’m 25 and I look up to you, so imagine what you’d accomplish if you believed in yourself and never stopped trying? Best selling author rivalling J.K.Rowling, Joan Didion,Anaïs Nin perhaps. Pulitzer price and Nobel Prize. A decade from now you’ll be the Chinese Girl who made it. People will proudly mention your ethnic background and shift the covert racism ingrained in the western culture. You’ll make it, not despite your aspergers,ethnic background, or mental illness – but because of it. To rise lofty, you must deepen your roots into the ground. See these difficulties as exploring deep parts of you and conquering them with hope and exiling fear.

      • Thank you, truly, for your encouragement and belief in me. Along with my love for the craft, it will help keep me going when times are tough. I can barely put my emotions into words. Thank you, more than I can say.

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