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The Lifelong Trauma Inflicted by Racism

Sherry Quan Lee writes about being different in the third person. She speaks of how her life was being born to a black mother and a Chinese father. Lee tries to show us how it must have been growing up not fitting in anywhere. “I am a little mixed up, but I was culturally raised white in south Scandinavian Minneapolis (Lee 191)” Despite us being in the 21st century, racism remains alive and well. Despite the strides made by our forefathers to eradicate this ‘disease,’ it continues to plague our modern society. Lee, for instance, feels distanced and Isolated from her own culture and is well aware that she does not fit into the white culture she was raised.

In Minnesota, Racism is still deeply rooted, though it is hidden in bright smiles that may seem welcoming to outsiders. Lees first introduces to us how growing up in a white culture, despite having her own culture, may have significantly affected her. This brings us to her first claim, one that she is stripped of her own culture or identity and made to fit into another in the name of ‘protection’ by her mother. Lee uses her disconnection from her culture to call attention to the whitewashing that is experienced by those who can pass as White Americans at the expense of their own culture and origin. Lee uses an emotional appeal to demonstrate this further when she frames her trauma about love, illustrating that love cannot be valid if it cannot acknowledge one’s own true identity (Lee 190).

The second claim that Lee brings out is that of power control. The people who have the most to gain are the white people. Lee uses this claim alongside pathos to evoke her audience’s emotions of sadness and trauma when she mentions that she lives in a discomfort zone and can barely separate the fact that she grew up white, having little to no knowledge of her own culture, traumatizing her for life. Here, Lee uses the power dynamics to illustrate that the people who have more power( white people ) continue to sell the idea that white is right, white is correct, and anything other than white may not be ideal. To further push the claim, Lee explains how her first husband refused to acknowledge her black Asian Origins and instead preferred to keep it a secret (Lee 185). People of color are confined to ideas of who they are for the sake of whiteness.

Lee’s third claim is that of racial injustices and an unfair stereotypic system. Lee uses a logical appeal to illustrate how unfair the criminal justice system is to people of color. In America, anything other than Caucasian color may be weaponized. In this claim, she uses her boys to explain how they were pulled over by the cops with the suspicion that they had stolen a car from the suburbs to go joyriding. It is quite unfortunate that even now, the same is still happening. Lee uses Logos to illustrate this: the people who have grown up in predominantly white neighborhoods and are mixed race are constantly referred to as outcasts. They do not fit in, just like his boys; therefore, they may be traumatized for life and even whitewashed into thinking that the white color is superior (Lee 191).

Lees’s third claim is further reinforced by her parents, who refuse to let her acknowledge her background. A lack of diversity and cultural exposure is what is mostly prompting white people to refuse to acknowledge any of their cultures apart from their own and continue to perpetuate that white is right. People of color have the least to gain in this and have the least amount of power to change the system. They are forced to erase their own culture for the sake of whiteness and are forced into ideas of who they are. Lee’s boys must have felt they were a threat even though they were not because that is what the system has made them believe.

Lee’s perspective of racism was easy for me to take on. I am also a mixed race who grew up here in Minnesota. I understand how it feels to be white, but not the good kind of ‘white.’ I know how it constantly feels not to belong and be forced to adapt to a new culture that is not your own and blend in. Likewise, I feel robbed of my cultural heritage by the whites, who do not even acknowledge my efforts and still call me the other. Knowing this, I am drawn to her perspective, and I can only hope that the situation changes soon because as long as white people are the ones with power, the city is not diversified. The story may remain the same if People are not exposed to different and fresh ideas. Unfortunately, color remains an aspect that is continually causing rifts in life.

Work Cited

Sherry Quan Lee Discomfort Zone: Minnesota Born and Raised



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