I want to start by saying that this post will be a little different from the ones I’ve done previously. The past few weeks and days have been difficult for those back home, and I just want to say that even though I’m miles away from you, I understand and I’m praying and fighting alongside you. This is not a pity post, this is not a radical post. This is me stating my voice and using my means to stand up for myself and others like me.
Q: Do you experience racism in Korea?
I am only seeking to enlighten people about my experience with racism in Korea, PERSONALLY. This may not be every foreigners experience, but this is my own. So as you read, PLEASE keep that in mind. Everyone is different and everyone’s experience will be different. Don’t try to mold my life experiences as your own.
With that being said, before coming to Korea, I was warned by many individuals to brace myself for racism in Korea.
Does that mean racism doesn’t exist? No.
Maybe for another person, they have had the unfortunate incident to run into a racist Korean, but I have not.
Does that mean it will never happen? No.
I’m sure the longer I live here, I may come across one or two. The fact of the matter is, there are racist people everywhere and there is not much I can do about individual racism.
Does that make it okay? ABSOLUTELY NOT.
As a black person, racism has followed me since birth, so to me, avoiding Korea because of racists wasn’t a valid excuse, in my opinion. After all, there are racists in my home country. So, I held onto my dream and moved here.
As I consider the state my home county is in and how its citizens, who look like me, who have lived there for their entire lives, still have to fight to have a say and been seen as humans in their own country, I thought it would be fitting to share my experience as a foreigner in a country that only recently began to get exposed to people from different cultures.
For ME, my experience with racism in Korea, open racism I mean, (I don’t know what people say behind closed doors or think) has been little to non-existent. Maybe someone will repeat something that they’ve heard on television or liken you to a celebrity they know, just because you have the same skin color, but I haven’t experienced brutal, open, flat out racism from anyone. Maybe because it’s considered rude to be racist and manners are a big part of this society? Maybe because for years they were struggling to get on their feet and with the help of foreigners they were able to get back up again? Maybe because they are more curious about foreigners and wish to get to know them better? Maybe it’s because they have beef with other Asian countries that they don’t pay attention to other foreigners?
Clearly, I don’t know what the reason is, but the deep seated hatred and life threatening actions that exist in America are non-existent for ME here.
(Also, it could be different if you are Asian or non-Asian. I don’t know if that actually matters, but like I said, from my personal experience as a black woman, this is what I notice.)
I find that most Koreans, at least those near my age, tend to want to understand me more instead of putting me into a box and I appreciate that. The older generation may have some prejudice but I haven’t encountered one yet.
I am me. My color only makes up a small part of me. Underneath the outer shell, covered by my dark, rich, gorgeous skin is a heart that beats, yearns, and tries to love all people from every walk of life. Crowing my head, underneath my luscious coils is an intelligent, sharp mind eager to learn and understand the world around me and those that fill it. Those who have taken the time to recognize that, thank you. It’s because of people like you, whether you are white, black, Hispanic, Arabian, Asian, or whatever, that we can keep fighting and praying for a better tomorrow.
I don’t know how this story will end for my brothers and sisters back home in America, but all I can say is that even though I am thousands of miles away, even though I may feel only a fraction of the fear, hurt, and anger you are feeling right now, just know that I am standing with you. I understand you.
I will forever be mystified at how a country who only became more integrated in the past 60 odd years has made more progress in racial prejudice (somewhat) than a country founded in diversity.
Black lives matter.
My life matters.
My brother and my father’s lives matter.
And as long as I am alive I will fight for them, myself, my family and my community.
We are black, but we are more than just the color of our skin and others must take note.
Until next time,
See ya around, friend~~