Not liberal nor conservative, just human

Politics and social justice issues are not interchangeable

by Ruth Feng


"Don’t bring politics into this.”

Too often people have said this to me. They think because I’m talking about police brutality, because I’m talking about women’s rights, because I’m talking about racism, that I’m dragging politics into the conversation. I’m not. The first definition that comes up when you search up politics is this:

"The activities associated  with  the  governance  of  a  country  or  other  area,  especially  the  debate  or  conflict  among  individuals  or  parties  having  or  hoping  to  achieve  power"

People must have the wrong idea of what politics is, then, if they think that I’m bringing up these issues to gain power. I bring these issues up because families are hurting. The people at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement are not looking for power. Women who are robbed of their basic civil rights are not looking for power. What they all want is simple: the ability to be seen and treated as equal.

In an area with a predominantly Asian and less than one percent African-American population, I understand how these social justice issues can seem distant. However, that’s no reason to dismiss it as political talk. A short film by Black is Beautiful, a group that aims to empower the black community, depicts the way black parents have to talk to their children about discrimination.

“This isn’t about you not getting a ticket,” her mom said. “This is about you not coming home.”

I’m currently in the process of getting my driver’s license. Neither of my parents have had to warn me about police brutality.


One time, I was practicing driving with my mom in an empty parking lot in a nearby community college, and a police car drove up to me. I’ll admit, my parking job probably looked like that of a drunk driver’s, but the police just asked me “Is everything okay?” to which I replied, “Yes, I’m a fairly new student driver.” He then asked if I had a learner’s permit, and I replied yes. He told me to have a good day and drove away.

After the officer left, I couldn’t help but think back to the video of Philando Castile being shot in the backseat of his car, unarmed and unhostile. I couldn’t help but think of Sandra Bland. I couldn’t help but think of Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice... The truth is, I never have to worry about police brutality. Most people living in Cupertino don’t have to.

This is why I fully stand behind Black Lives Matter. Systemic racism plagues our judicial system, stripping minorities of their civil rights.

On the day that Philando Castile’s killer was acquitted of manslaughter, I had a feeling that somehow the court would change their decision and persecute him. Like waiting for someone to inevitably correct the kid who gave a wrong answer to a math problem, I waited for a different verdict. It never came.

As a woman of color, these truths reveal themselves to me everyday, but it does not strike some as harshly as it strikes me. At MVHS, I’ve noticed that many people choose to be passive. During conversations about social justice issues, they remain in their comfort zone instead of bringing something to the table or at least offering their candid opinion.

In these conversations, I am not trying to tell someone how to deal with their taxes. I am not trying to persuade them to vote one party or the other. That would be political, and there is nothing political about oppression.

"If you are neutral in situations of  injustice, you have chose the side of the oppressor"  - Desmond Tutu

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” -Desmond Tutu

Don’t equate something as imminent as police brutality to politics.


The nasty, behind-the-scenes, power plays by many of this country’s politicians cannot be discussed on the same level as the pain of losing a loved one to systemic racism.

As much as possible, I put myself in the shoes of even the most bigoted people to try to see a little more of what they see. I understand that no one shares the same life experiences and that personal experience is what shapes people’s views. But reversely, no one is born hating another person.

There is perhaps nothing more fitting to end this column with than the most liked tweet ever: a quote from Nelson Mandela revived by Barack Obama, tweeted after the horrors of the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville: