Michelle Xiong is finishing her junior year at Como Park Senior High School. She identifies as Asian American.
Michelle enjoys video games and art. After high school, she plans to attend college to pursue a degree related to human resources. Michelle and her family requested that her photo not be included with this column, a request the Bugle has honored.
Q: Michelle, how are high schoolers talking about recent racially motivated violence (like the Georgia mass shootings targeting Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders or local shootings of Black individuals)?
A: Many teenagers are using social media to get their ideas and thoughts across nowadays. Two of the most notable social media platforms used are Instagram and Twitter. On these platforms, you’ll find many young people using or participating in hashtags and trends that are typically designed to spread awareness of social issues—including, but not limited to, racially motivated violence. Teenagers also don’t seem to shy away from protests addressing social issues.
Q: What was it like for you on the day Derek Chauvin was convicted?
A: I was at home doing school work, just like any other day for me. But I know it was a very stressful and relieving day for many people. I found out that Chauvin was convicted after logging onto Reddit, a popular forum website, and saw articles about the trial being shared and linked across the platform.
After reading the news, I shared it with my friends. I felt that Chauvin’s being convicted of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter was fair and just, and my friends were on board with those thoughts.
Q: Have you been treated differently or unfairly because of your race or age or sex?
A: It’s hard to remember any specific situations where I was treated badly enough to warrant keeping a memory of it. All of my life, I’ve gone to schools with diverse student bodies, so I don’t think I’ve ever been treated differently because of my race. Can’t say the same for some people I know though.
But there definitely have been times where I’ve been ridiculed for my nationality, which is American. This usually only happens when interacting with foreigners. The most recent incident was when someone told me I “probably had five brain cells” after I disclosed that I was American. It wasn’t that serious, but I thought it was pretty funny.
On a more serious note, getting discriminated against because of age seems to be somewhat a common thing that happens to many people. I remember often thinking I was unimportant because I’d be ignored or brushed off when talking to adults when I was younger. It was likely because a lot of adults forget that kids will more often than not be forever impacted by the interactions they’ve had. I’ve also seen older folks be discounted too.
Q: If you could coach the Como Park High School neighborhoods to be more racially sensitive, what lessons would you share?
A: I remember learning about the “The Ten Stages of Genocide” a couple years ago. It’s interesting because it organizes such a menacing concept into only a few stages that I think the average person can easily comprehend.
It’s a good way to make sure you’re not doing anything that could lead to extreme prejudices. These stages can be applied to just about anything or topic, whether it be a certain race, age, sex, nationality, a certain hobby or literally anything else. (Editor’s note: For information on stages of genocide, check out this website https://genocideeducation.org/resources/teaching-guides/ )
Sarah CR Clark lives in St. Anthony Park and is a regular freelance writer for the Bugle.
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