197. Neocolonial Fears

I’m thrilled to report that my husband and I are now fully vaccinated. It was a four-trip stealth operation all told, sneaking out without A noticing we were away, and, at least twice, leaving R to attend to his remote lessons while also keeping an ear alert for A potentially waking up. Don’t judge, but I wasn’t going to navigate the Darwinian parking at the megasite, so my husband very kindly drove me.

It’s equally thrilling to report that A’s school has embarked on a program to administer vaccines on site to teachers and staff. So maaaaaybe, we might be able to send him, if not to what’s left of the academic year, to summer school. We are fearful but hopeful.

It’s hard to know what to work towards. The numbers have not come down enough to rejoice, but we feel like rejoicing. We are winning a few battles, but the war is still raging, I guess.

I really didn’t want to give anymore blog space to Covid deniers and anti-vaxxers. But today I shall. Because I am perceiving that anti-vaxx theories too often go together with carelessness and/or a refusal to take the known precautions. Enlarging one’s pod to the size of a regular day at Costco, for example. Excusing every risk taking step by claiming mental health concerns.

If my fellow Asians-from-Asia have learned to be scared of vaccines, it certainly didn’t come from our upbringing. I’ve mentioned this before, but given the hot climates and population density, I remember us getting every shot available to us. It is a luxury to refuse life saving preventatives.

Oh, what the hell. I’m just going to say it. I see it dovetailing with ideas of organic food, and a general granola lifestyle, which might also, but not necessarily include, being super religious OR super spiritual. The two are not the same. And a move away from civic mindedness, and towards individualism. Giving equal weight to random opinions and medical research findings. Succumbing to fears of vaccine injury, government tracking, genetically modified vaccine ingredients, and a loss of individual liberties.

Current internalized neocolonialism works like this.

It convinces us that since white people have tended to hold fiercely to their advantages, refusing to share, it is safest to want what they want. A retreat from the grid, but with smoothies and affirmations instead of propane tanks and guns. Backyard vegetable gardens rather than canned food stashes. And eventually, a return to community through “clean” living rather than a mass submission to big Pharma. Would it help to offer them an organic version of the vaccine? I bet it would. This thought has been amusing me greatly. Because it has to be special and separate before it can appeal to this demographic.

To be clear, I am not sparing non-Asian deniers. But I am always about Asian ideas about autism and related issues first because, what actual colonization didn’t rob from us, an inability to recognize our continued psychic colonization will. I don’t want us always rushing to polarized ideas, for example, assuming that because people call out white supremacy, ergo they must hate white people. No. And we must understand these struggles without reverting to simplistic nationalism and an insistence on finding easy antagonists.

Let’s connect these fears to my pet peeve. Ultimately, when you talk about vaccine injury, one of the things you are scared of is autism. So since I have heard desis say out loud that they believe their teenagers can develop autism from a vaccination, I will tell you that our cultural obsession with STEM cannot culminate in nonsensical thinking like this. If we are going to be about STEM, it must extend into our personal choices. Evidence based research must guide our lives in deeper ways. And if it cannot, let us admit at least that pushing our kids into STEM careers is a wasted endeavor, and allow them to breathe freely. Let’s pay other professions equally well. Yay.

Our lack of respect for the intellectual rigor-slash-flexibility cultivated by arts education is also why we have so much community-wide inability to separate misinformation from fact. Educated opinions from conspiracy theories. Consider how STEM obsession converges with neocolonialism to persuade us that educated western folks being scared of vaccines is somehow logical rather than deriving from fear of a loss of privilege, and that we would do well to participate in casting doubt on a medical effort so meticulous that people from many fields will have data to pore over for decades to come.

We are trying to live through a massive airborne toxic event, a la “White Noise” by Don DeLillo. I encourage you to read this book. It might give you insight into why so many of us are resisting herd immunity but rushing to be penned, like frightened sheep, unwilling to trust in any endeavor endorsed by the powers that be, trapped in our own silos of self preservation.

I am sending my love and thanks to the people who have been working assiduously to find vaccine appointments for strangers. As Rebecca Solnit points out, they are the bodhisattvas of this historical moment.

Radha.

2 thoughts on “197. Neocolonial Fears

  1. Dear Radha, I’m happy to hear that you got your vaccines and that school for A may be on the horizon. Thanks as always for a wise and beautifully written reminder to all of us to think. hope to see you soon..l

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m so glad you got your vaccines! And that the teachers and staff might be able to be vaccinated! That’s very exciting!
    I can remember many times the complicated configurations and hoping that Dylan would stay asleep long enough for me to do something as simple as take a shower or go to a neighbor’s house to use their printer… Whew!
    It isn’t easy and I could never even find the words to describe what that was like. You capture both the beauty and the struggle so well in all your writings.
    Sadly, many of the teachers here are opting out of the vaccine. We only have about a fifty percent vaccination rate here for eligible people (which includes teachers).
    On a positive note, someone we meet with on Zoom every week is a self-described “anti-vaxxer”- but we have three people in our group who participated in the clinical trials for the vaccine and we finally convinced her to get vaccinated for Covid- the first vaccine she’s gotten in twenty years!
    I dearly love reading your blog posts, Radha! Sometimes WordPress won’t let me in to comment (it’s a sign that I haven’t written anything in years 😅) but I’m still reading!

    Liked by 1 person

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