My entire life I have struggled for being half Asian. I have struggled for who I am because of the stereotypes, perceptions, and taunts that have followed me throughout my childhood and adulthood. Even in this melting pot of a country where everyone is supposed to be able to live without fear of prosecution and racism no matter of the ethnicity or skin color, I cannot safely say that I haven’t always lived without being ridiculed simply because of who I am. I wish that in this country people were — and have always been — more opened minded, accepting, and tolerant. I also wish that people didn’t feel the need to walk on eggshells around people who are perceived as different. I very much wish that people were more educated and knowledgeable about different cultures, instead of simply going by what they were raised to believe or what the media has told them.
I’ve never before shared the way that I’ve struggled for being half Asian. I have expressed the benefits of being half Asian as well as the best things about being multiracial. But I’ve never expressed how exactly I have suffered as someone who is half Asian. It is not something that I try to think about. But, particularly in light of recent events, I wanted to share my personal experiences for some of the ways that I’ve struggled for being half Asian. Only by sharing these experiences can we inform and ultimately put a stop to the hate and ignorance that is prevalent even in this great country of the free. Only by sharing can we fight prejudice and hatred and replace them with understanding and love. Only by sharing can we make the world just a little bit safer.
Ever since my elementary school days, I was often the subject of verbal assaults by my fellow peers. Sometimes they — and they would always be in a crowd — would look at me and say Ching-Chang-Chong. They would often direct these alliterative “ch” digraphs in an arbitrary fashion at me. They would wait, clearly waiting for my reaction. I learned real quick that it was best not say anything or react in anyway. If I so much as looked up, then they would snigger behind their hands, speculating that the random nonsense they were sputtering out must have held meaning. I didn’t want to give them that satisfaction, so I just ignored them. What else could I do? What would have been the best way to respond to such ignorant racism?
Clearly, the American culture and society has always been lacking in Asian representation. For that reason, many people had a stereotypical view of what an Asian person looked like. In their eyes, an Asian person had straight jet black hair, had monolids, were short, and spoke in broken heavily accented English. And then, I came along, and even though I don’t have any of those features (except the shortness), they still looked at me. They still stretched their eyes out, so that they resembled slits, and stared back. They would also express blatant shock at me whenever I rolled my eyes. They’ve even asked me how I could see.
Followed by stares
Sometimes when I go out, I catch people staring at me. I don’t know why, or if it is even racially motivated. But as someone who is half Asian, I find that it is harder for me to blend into the background. I’ve never been able to completely go about completely unnoticed. I’m not a supermodel or a celebrity, but pretty much average. I am as average as you can be, but to many they perceive as something different, as something they have never seen before. And cue the stares and curiosity.
Being told that I don’t look American
Everywhere I go, I feel as if people see me as foreign. I feel as if people see me as different from the stereotypical image of an American. I’ve had people take a second glance at me. I’ve had people look at me, and then at my name, and then back at me, wondering why I didn’t have an Asian first name and last name. I remember once another student looked at me and said that I didn’t look like an American girl. She just stared and said that very matter of fact. Just because I don’t have blond hair and blue eyes doesn’t mean that I don’t look American. Unlike some other countries, the best thing about America is the fact that it is a melting pot of ethnicities and cultures. And yet, right off the bat, I was told that I don’t look American because of something that I couldn’t help. Despite the fact that I was born in America and have an American passport and have spent nearly my entire life here, I was still ostracized and told that I couldn’t be American.
It still hurts to remember the things that I’ve been told and things that have been done to me, and all simply because of my race. But what saddens me the most is the fact that that is the attitude of many people. Because of the underrepresentation of Asians and half Asians in the media and most industries, we are all an anomaly. Even today in the twenty-first century, many people still hold this stereotypical view of what an Asian person looks like. They look at those of us who look even partially Asian and either look at us with scorn and hate, or something to be ignored. Some even diminish our suffering in this country, suggesting that we couldn’t have suffered as much as some other races.
Even though those who are of Asian descent are a small and underrepresented group, it is time to change that. It is time to fight back against the injustice. We can’t let kids and adults continue to treat people in that way. We can’t let them view Asians as something that is too alien or a parasite in this country. When people make fun of others for something they can’t help — like their race– all it does it make the victim hate who they are. It makes the victim wonder that if they hadn’t looked like that then they would somehow be better. I write this in the hope that we view everyone as just people and not let assumptions color our beliefs of them.