A weekend of rallies and protests

My Friday started with some exciting news. The Koch brothers are in town for the annual Americans For Prosperity conference. After working closely with activists and environmentalists, I’ve seen the dark side of the foundation. Aljazeera recently made a video of the Koch brothers. Activists and people from Occupy DC took onto the streets and projected a very catchy video. The song was definitely stuck in my head for the rest of the week.

One thing that I’ve learned about the people that attended this rallies – they’re very passionate. Also, I caught this rare moment, it made my day –

The group starting running towards the convention center’s entrance. They were chanting, I was afraid for a moment, that something bad might happened. I started to walk away to get a bigger picture of what was going on, and I saw all the people walking past me, moving, then BAM! I saw them.

Saturday, I went to a Mermaid Parade and they wanted to raise awareness about the unsustainable practices used by Chicken of the Sea.

Definitely got a lot of attention on a fine Saturday afternoon. At times, this put me into an uncomfortable situation. I’m used to being invisible, or not attracting attention when out shooting. But I managed to shrug it off and finish what I set out to do. It’s always interesting to see how these things are organized. I’ve had a better sense of what goes into all these little stunts.

Sunday was a big day. Around 10,000 people gathered around the White House to send a message to President Obama regarding the Keystone Pipeline. And again, a lot of chanting and singing. The organizing party really put a lot of effort into making this event successful. At this kind of events, there are times when the crowd would get riled up and start off another agenda. But the message was clear in this.

I joined in with the singers and sang songs. I stood on a bench and took pictures. I walked around and met some of my friends. Now I believe it when people tell me that DC is a really small place.

Last but not least, I really do like moments like this, when I found something out of the ordinary that happened during rallies.

In the Shades of Gray

There are things better left in the shades of gray, and not having to identify them as black and white can be a form of release for your soul.

I’ve been asking myself questions about race actively. Trying to attach another meaning of my own to the term ‘race’. I’ve questions about being multiculture as well. Not in the sense that I’m living in a multicultural country, but in the way that a person has two identities, two cultures, and having to tie those in into life.

What are the roles that race plays in life? Are they good? Are they bad? There are always multiple answers to the question.

For example, I’ve always wanted a color-blind society, in which people judge you by your skills, your charms and not the color of your skin. But, recently, I’ve heard another person talking about the society that he wants to live in. With people from different racial and cultural backgrounds, it’s similar to a rainforest. It is beautiful because of its diversity. If it is a color-blind society, it would be this barren land, lack of differences. I guess I was looking for the perfect world, and have forgotten how to embrace things the way they are.

I’ve talked to Daniel, a guy that I met recently, who’s Korean-American. He found himself growing interested in his Korean heritage as he grows older, and he didn’t have difficulties growing up trying to find out who he is. In a brief 15 minute conversation, he enlightens me in many ways. I don’t always have to give a definite answer. It’s about accepting who you are. It is a privilege to have two or more cultures to identify with, a sense of pride too. Being able to ask the question, ‘Who am I?’ is a privilege, it is a life lesson.

Questioning race, is a constant process. Everyone will have different experiences. There are no textbook answers for race. What am I suppose to do if my parents are white and I am not? Am I suppose too seek out my heritage and embrace those values instead of the ones my parents have thought me? There are some questions that I would imagine a transracial adoptee would have. Even growing up in a different country, one would have many questions about the culture that they do not experience, but is largely related to who they are.

Being Korean/Chinese/Indian in America, is different than being Korean/Chinese/Indian in Korea/China/India. There are many cultural things that you wouldn’t be able to learn if you’re not in that country.

I have my own up and down moments. Mainstream media was a filter in my life. It has shaped how I think about other people, and sometimes, even my own people.

I date a white guy. When I’m with him, it’s not about our skin tones, it’s about who we are when we’re together. The jokes, the discussions, the interests, that we share. But when I’m out and about with him, I fear the looks of other people, and the things that they have to say.

I fear they see me and would think, ‘Oh, look, a white-wannabe.’ Of course, not. I’m comfortable in my own skin. It’s just how the society (or rather the Asian society) as formed this idea that anybody that dates a white person is trying to reach the higher end of the social status hierarchy.

And him, being the white guy, has the privilege of stepping out of uncomfortable moments, because he is acceptable or should I say, pleasing when one thinks about belonging to the society.

Another question that I have regarding race, is how to remove all the negative feelings or history that are bounded with them? In this case, racial discrimination. How can we see another person equally? But then, what is the definition of equal? The Civil War Rights are suppose to grant equality to the blacks. But even nowadays, we consciously know that there are stillĀ prejudiceĀ  towards blacks.

There are no right or wrong answers. We simply have to find the ones that make the most sense along the way. I hope one day, I’ll be able to.

I would like to end this with a link to a recent photography exhibition that I went to, Kyopo.