First, I was planning to have this piece to introduce a book I was reading (and not yet end, I’ve been telling you many times I read very slow). “We were Eight Years in Power" by Ta-Nehisi Coates. But I knew right from start I had to fold my plan. Same old problem of mine: I was ambitious, but my knowledge, my capability, always couldn’t support my ambition of any respect. When one writes an article about a book, he supposedly writes what he knows about what the book told, before what he feels about what the book told. That’s what we expect an essay/review about a book should be. But I am not able, as always, to tell what I know about the book. I can only feel the rage the author emanated through his every word and phrase. In a very restrained, to an extent like choking himself from ‘splosion, way. Because of the oppression and toil his race has endured, and been enduring. Because of the utmost frustration he feels against the White America, and the not-so-subtle White Supremacy in that same America.
However I felt, and still feeling, about him as an author, as a human being, I could not write even a word about what I knew about what he wrote. Because I simply didn’t know. And still don’t know. I could highlight the best sentences in the book, as I really did. I could quote the Black Americans quoted by him– E.L. Doctorow, Fredrick Douglass, Ida B. Well, Malcolm X, but such and such would not do me favour to show off how much I know about the book; about Black America; about Obama; about American slavery and its long shadow. On the contrary, doing so would plainly spotlight my emptiness and shallowness in this subject. I feel a lot of jealousy and misgiving when I see on Twitter and other similar Social Media platform somebody able to write very good book review to showcase how well they know the book, the author, the subject matter, or all of them. I feel the same when I see them writing very good pieces to show off how great their knowledge are. I am honest I feel so jealous every time I see them, read them. I am equally honest I am equally eager to show off if I could, if not more so. But I know I simply can’t. So the best thing I can do is writing here thousands of words that are bullshit. Meaningless bullshit. Just as I do here.
Or, I shouldn’t have been so harsh on myself. As author did demonstrate through this book Black is never an easy subject matter to grapple with. Reading the book all along, I was so immersed into the book, that I was like keep hearing the shadow and ghosts in the book speaking, “Hey child, Black is too much for you Asians. Black is not your stuff. It’s not like the subjects you used to read, child. It’s way more difficult, child. It’s not for you." How immersed can one be to know them more? Does it help listening to African Unite by Bob Marley? Or ATM by J Cole? Or This is America by Childish Gambino? Does it help memorising speeches of Obama? or Martin Luther King Jr? Or William Barber? Or Stormzy (oh he is British)?
No, they all don’t help much. The same shadow and ghosts went, “Futile child. Black is Black. You ain’t no Black, Asian. Just skip it, child. It’s not for you." Does transrace operation help? Like what Rachel Dolezhal did? Does wiping my everything in the past help? Does wiping out my social media footprints, and all the history, like what I’ve been doing, help? Does boxing my hair, braiding my hair help? The same shadow and ghosts went, “No child. Black is blood thing, child. You can’t fake it, child. You can’t trans it, child. You can only inherit it. It’s not your Christian Jesus God, that everyone can be my son if thy say Hallelujah, child. Just skip it, child. It ain’t do you no good this time, child. Just skip it."
So I have to skip it. Surrender. And say, I don’t know a word the book said. Humble. It’s like the project is even more difficult to be immersed as 戀英青 (Honestly, I hate that name so much. Anytime I heard anyone call me so, it’s like the worst swear I’ve ever heard. 難聽過粗口). So I really have to skip it, fold it. Nothing to tell you. You can read it if you want, though. It’s a really good book. Rage aside, I feel quite connected with him when the Author told writing, as much as activism, is like a business that’s doomed to fail. The only value, and meaning, of it is that you know you are still writing, and fighting, for a battle you know you never gonna win. I feel the same. I never have any feeling of winning anything. I always feel the time I was born, I was born to lose.
That’s fine. At least finer than when I was born to kill.