Growing up Asian in America

memory….
The little girl felt warm inside whenever her mother would say to her and her younger sister, “You are my two darlings with beautiful almond eyes.” So whenever they went to the grocery store, the little girl would make sure to stop by the large bin which held the almonds and smile when she saw their familiar shape.

memory…
“Beverly loves Martin, Martin loves Beverly,” they squealed with laughter, pointing, “ Look they have the same eyes, they could be twins!” That was the first time the girl became aware of her Asian-ness, her different-ness. And after that kindergarten day, Martin had a crush on the little girl until the 6th grade. And she could not understand, and her giggly girlfriends could not understand why she avoided the sweet, quiet boy who had her eyes.

memory…
“What did Wong say when Fong asked him if the wontons were ready? I Chink so.” – Ha ha ha her friend was laughing non-stop after she finished her joke. The lanky 13 year old girl, laughed half-heartedly. That was a new one. Chink. She felt red in her face. Still laughing, the other girl said, “I mean, you’re not one or anything, but isn’t that funny?” The lanky girl hurriedly nodded in agreement and forced another laugh, but inside she felt sorry for those ‘Chinks’ yet hated that ‘they’ were a part of her.

memory….
“Oh my god those Oriental people, who do they think they are just talking so loud in their annoying language. Don’t they know they are in America? They should just speak English!” The girl cringed but stayed silent. After all, her friend was saying this to her. Was her Taiwanese immigrant hard working dad really not welcome here? Were they known as ‘those people’ ‘those foreigners,’ or worse names to the American culture? But it’s our culture too, the girl thought. And being shunned by it was the worst thing.

memory…
“God I hate those radars,” the annoyed girl said to her sister, the bright yellow ticket in her hand as the policeman walked away. “Hey look at this. He checked the race box for ‘white’ her sister said. “Weird,” said the annoyed girl. That was weird. Didn’t he see her last name on her license? Well, she guessed he had a 50/50 chance anyway if he marked ‘white’ or ‘Asian.’ The girl became thoughtful. She thought to herself that the ethnicity box should be the ethnicity paragraph space – a place where she could write all of her frustrations and thoughts concerning her color. She knew from experience that one’s ethnicity or racial background was not just history or the past – it affected you throughout your life. She knew there was more to one’s color than a simple check mark.

memory….
The young college student knew why the little black girl in the book wanted blue eyes. The college student had wanted blond hair once. The memories of her own experiences as a half Asian half Caucasian girl extended from as far back as she could remember. The student understood the anguish which encompassed the lives of the black people in the book. She knew how a simple color could affect one’s life in every way. Her own experience was much less extreme compared with the experiences of the black people in the book who were born into situations from which they could not escape. She was lucky. She did not have to fear poverty or sickness or fear being “stuck” someplace in life without the hope of change. She did however know the aching want to belong. She knew anger and hostility towards oneself and simultaneously towards what one wanted to be. She knew from her experiences that evolving one’s racial identity was no small task.

💗Photo: Me and my beautiful Taiwanese Grandma.

#supportourasianbrothersandsisters #ourwordsmatter #putyourselfinanothersshoes #loveoneanother 🙏🏾💗