I am in Lansing rehearsing my presentation in my hotel room. This is the first time I've set foot in Michigan. My first thought upon arriving at the Lansing Airport, "holy shit, am I the only Asian person here?" My second thought, "wow this airport is tiny." When I got outside there were only 8 cars waiting to pick people up at the curb and 3 people (including me) at the curb waiting to get picked up. There was no honking, no backed up traffic, and no cops yelling at people who aren't actively loading or unloading passengers. Actually there were no cops anywhere within sight. It was...eerie.
After checking in I headed across the street to get a gyro for dinner and some baked goods for tomorrow's breakfast. It dawned on me that I'm in a predominantly white city just a few days after a disturbed Asian American student went on America's biggest shooting spree. As I walked through the half empty shopping plaza I saw only white people and a couple of them glared at me briefly from out of the corner of their eye with a look that didn't exactly say "welcome to Lansing." And I don't think I'm just being paranoid.
Just as I was in Illinois and all through childhood, I'm feeling a little uncomfortable in my own skin. I couldn't imagine what it must've been like for people of Middle Eastern descent in New York the week after 9/11.
Mental illness affects people of every color and that shooter could have been white, black, or brown. If he were white there certainly would be no discussion of race in this situation at all because to be white is to be default, normal, colorless.
I hope and pray to every god in the universe that there are no acts of retaliation against the Asian American community.