One of the biggest reasons I became an independent tattooer is because I faced unfair power dynamics that were taken advantage of, over and over again.
I didn't realize this until I had time away from shop employment/contract and time to process my experiences. Most of my life I was told it was never about race, "never use the race card" because I saw how people reacted (victim-blaming/defensiveness), and racism is dead because school taught me so. So of course, I didn't even realize I was a part of a minority group and that it had everything to do with race+oppression.
I had no idea the term 'Asian-American' applied to me because I was never told being Asian was okay (the opposite, rather), and I was constantly surrounded by [white] people unlike me and they were unable to understand my experiences of not appearing white normative. No wonder I felt totally alone and confused as to why I was easily cut-out of social spaces.
It is common and easy for POC to be cut out of white-dominated spaced because as humxns, we will always side with what we know and trust (for survival): our own kind, or whoever we relate to the closest. This is how abusers continue to be protected by their communities.
While POC-kids are told that we can co-exist and that we are the same (to 'get along'), we are not taught the social differences, visible differences (and discrimination that comes with them), and the real history+struggles of freedom for marginalized groups/POC. Instead, we are taught a heroic white history of domination and violence.
So, I thought I was white and that I belonged in white spaces. I was/am white-washed and am currently working towards decolonizing myself. This includes unlearning the [internalized] racism I was taught by my white surroundings. I am also doing my research in the real history of various marginalized groups, not the kind from grade school textbooks.
We can always learn, we can always grow, and both will contribute to healing.
Things I'd like to write/discuss in the future regarding Power Struggles in White Spaces:
-Asian/light-skinned privileges (and privilege in general)
-my experience in specific settings where it became abusive/hostile (and the emotional baggage that comes with it)
-power dynamics and things to be aware of when dealing with conflict between people who benefit from society on different levels
-intersectionality of allyship and discrimination