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Human Parts
A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

Race

In Human Parts. More on Medium.

This Is Us

On anti-Asian hate, allyship, and protecting our moms and dads

Like many thoughtful humans, I’ve been overcome with rage as I witness story after story of Asian American elders being pushed, kicked, and slammed into the ground just because they had the audacity to walk to church. But as an Asian American immigrant, I also felt something more.

Bizarrely, even though I would never engage in such hateful violence, I found myself feeling responsible.

I know I share this feeling with other immigrant children who have carried the burden of holding our parents up when they have been dismissed in their new country as being stupid, greedy, and unworthy. …


Living between my Nigerian and African-American identities

I shoved my research notebook in my desk drawer and slammed it closed.

I’d just completed my dissertation study. I should have been eager to sift through the pages, but that notebook was the last thing I wanted to see.

The year before, I’d traveled to Detroit to purchase it.

I barely recognized Woodward Avenue. No longer decorated with broken streetlights and vacant lots, it was now well-lit and laced with high-end stores, modern buildings, and farm-to-table restaurants. The media called it “an urban renewal,” but Detroit natives knew it was gentrification.

“I can get out here,” I told my…


Past Is Prologue

Hundreds of years from now, how will the story of this time in the United States be told?

As a kid, road trips were marked by dog slobber and historical markers.

We had an ’83 Jeep Cherokee with no heat and no air conditioning. The winters were fine in that car, but the summers were pure hell. Oberon, our Great Dane, would lean his massive head over my shoulder, his drool sliding in long shimmering strings down the back of the seat, pooling by my legs, and sticking my thighs to the vinyl.

We lived in the country, and I spent my elementary school years carsick as we drove up and down mountain roads, gravel spitting out from…


This Is Us

Black stories are most rewarded when they center blackness — which, in a certain sense, is to center whiteness

Black and white photo of the author and her son posing on a street.
Black and white photo of the author and her son posing on a street.

It is a cool autumn morning and I am perched on my couch, a coffee cup nearby, a few pages into Claudia Rankine’s newest book, Just Us: An American Conversation. My 14-year-old son saunters in and asks what I am reading when I look up over the brim to tell him: “It’s a book on race by an author I met last summer during my writing residency.” “Is it good?” he asks. “It’s interesting,” I say. “But sometimes I get tired of reading about racism.” “Why… because it makes you angry?” he asks. “Angry is not the right word. Annoyed…


This Is Us

The pursuit of a PhD from my urban vantage point

A dark-skinned person with dreads dipping backward while dancing.
A dark-skinned person with dreads dipping backward while dancing.

what they don’t tell you
about getting your PhD
is that your childhood memories
of growing up
on the Westside of Detroit

and sitting inside of
overcrowded
public school
classrooms
with more students than desks
will be etched across
the pages
of your mandated
course readings

they don’t tell you
that your carefree moments
of sharing textbooks
with your classmates
and bike riding
up
and
down
pothole-ridden side streets
past boarded up homes
with caved-in roofs
hidden behind
tall dense grass
will be placed inside of a frame

they will
hang it on a wall
and gaze at it
and their faces will…


A weeklong look at the scariest night of the year

“It wasn’t until high school when I realized that I missed out on Halloween’s biggest traditions,” writes Isaiah McCall in a story about forgoing trick-or-treating in favor of his ultra-Christian…


This Is Us

There comes a time when we can’t look the other way

A white person, looking off to the right, standing next to a Black person who’s looking at the camera.
A white person, looking off to the right, standing next to a Black person who’s looking at the camera.

I was falling in love the morning my grandma died. It was December 2017, and I was snuggled in bed with a woman I’d met just a few months before. We giggled and kissed under the comforter as we greeted the chilly Southern California morning together. When we finally broke apart to check our phones, I saw a Facebook message from a cousin simply announcing, “Grandma is gone.”

A week later, I sat in my aunt’s living room in Louisiana, surrounded by parents, cousins, uncles, aunts, and other kin. Fully hoping to escape the moment, I checked Facebook and saw…


Express Yourself

You have nothing to prove. Sometimes, the best thing to do is walk away.

Closeup of a Black woman’s eye, with light shining in a strip where her eyes is. Rest of face obscured by shadow.
Closeup of a Black woman’s eye, with light shining in a strip where her eyes is. Rest of face obscured by shadow.

A couple of months ago I wrote an essay about my experience growing up as a light-skinned Black woman in the United States.

I wanted to speak honestly about internalized racism and how it has manifested throughout my life. My hope was that by turning a critical eye inward and engaging with my flawed journey — still flawed, by the way— I might be able to offer a road map for people working through similar issues.

It was a tough piece, and I received a wide variety of responses. Some were complimentary. One of the first was from a mother…


This Is Us

Fear won, and I can no longer afford to hold onto my anti-gun ideals

Handgun on wooden table with 7 bullets.
Handgun on wooden table with 7 bullets.

“There is no such thing as paranoia. Your worst fears can come true at any moment.” — Hunter S. Thompson

There’s nothing fancy about it, but it’ll kill if I ask it to, which I suppose is the defining characteristic of a gun. In that sense, it’s perfect. If the shots are well placed, it can kill 18 times before it asks for any assistance in continuing. Ruthlessly efficient and rightfully terrifying, it represents protection in the most dangerous way possible. …


There were Post-It notes all over her apartment, according to the New York Times: Goals. To-do lists. Reminders. At 26, Breonna Taylor was in that phase of your life where reinventing yourself is the norm. Where everything about your story is up for revision — a rough draft you’re still workshopping, running it by friends and hoping it makes sense.

We tend to remember people based on who they were when we knew them. As if by the time their lives ended, they’d somehow reached their Final Form, ready to be immortalized as that person forever. …

Human Parts

A publication from Medium about humanity: yours, mine, and ours.

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