By Ivy Zhu
Discussed: racial violence and hate crimes
My parents did not talk American politics but when I entered high school, I discovered everyone around me does.
I did not understand the slightest about filibusters, the debate over medical care, or whatever politics was. I felt dumb. The following day, I made a New York Times account and turned on notifications for the news.
I did not like it so much. The assassination of an Iranian general, the entire continent of Australia on fire, the murder hornets. As the pandemic spiraled, the New York Times icon on my phone screen only became so much more daunting. George Floyd’s death, the protests in Portland, the vaccine, I watched the danger as it watched me.
A Thai man pushed to death in broad daylight.
Filipino American man slashed across the face with a box cutter.
The Atlanta Spa shootings with eight dead.
The Chinese Virus.
The 150% increase in Asian American hate crimes.
Last year, my playwright teacher had started with an icebreaker: What animal are you feeling like right now?
I am a sloth. Actually, no. It makes more sense to say I wished I was a sloth. Sloths are slow. They move 0.17 mph maximum when threatened yet they survived 64 million years and are still here to this very day. How you may ask?
Because mother nature abandons none of her children. Sloths camouflage. They grow algae on their fur and move oh so slowly, blending in with the background, evading their predators.
Mother nature has given us more than enough to flourish on our own but when our own turns against itself, what can she do but watch in horror? We have no fur to grow algae on. If we moved slowly, all that would do is encourage them to scream their slurs louder, shove our body against the pavement harder. We have no camouflage for our skin.
I wake up every morning to the absence of my father, who works from 8AM. to 8PM. He comes home tired, hands blackened and gnarled from physical labor and I worry. Do the shape of our eyes, the tint in our skin, paint a neon arrow directed at my father’s head?
I wish turning off the notification on my phone was enough. I wish for none of these horrors but here we are. I wish I can continue to be lazy, inactive, selfish, and slow. My body and my brain limit what I can do but at the very least, I can unfurl my limbs from my bed, and utter, “We are human.”
Ivy Zhu enjoys reading and gaming in her free time. Currently, she is struggling with new college life and juggling schoolwork with her part-time job. And her favorite dog in the world is Tofu. He is now nine months old.