There’s no easy way to start this off. It has never been easy trying to fit centuries of world history in textbooks, let alone a 700 word online article. The thought of even discussing such controversial subject matter just leaves room for discomfort and unease. But I figured that trying new things and pushing myself outside my comfort zone is necessary, especially in times of such uncertainty. So without further ado, it’s 2021, and it’s about time that we include Asians in the antiracism movement.
Growing up Korean American is not easy, to say the least. There were most certainly times where I felt internalized racist energy directed towards me, for example, when other East Asians would constantly say that I was not “Asian” enough. Maybe it was because I was tan and born and raised in America with English as my primary language. Nevertheless, to them, I was far too “whitewashed” for their liking; this was despite the fact that I speak Korean fluently on a daily basis, I eat Korean food because it’s a part of my body’s functioning needs, and I have always held a soft spot in my heart for my relatives that lived in Korea.
Being able to grow up in America as someone who is not favored by the country’s covert prejudice, is also most definitely an accomplishment of itself. It wasn’t easy bringing in cultural lunches to elementary school that “smell” without feeling embarrassed or paranoid that your peers would judge you. It wasn’t easy being told that you were expected to be extremely school smart because of a stereotype, without accrediting the fact that you just worked hard in school regardless. Even in the media, growing up without seeing any representation is heartbreaking. Not only are Asians still not represented accurately or even given a fair opportunity in Hollywood films and shows, but neither are Black people, Native American people, or Hispanic people, to name a few; a lack of representation really affects how you view the importance of your identity. Of course, the way I grew up and my own personal experiences do not apply to every Asian American.
Ever since the original lockdown, there has been so much personal growth in ourselves, friends, and families because when we all had to sit at home, we were all alone with our thoughts. With no distractions either, it was easy to pick up the general trends of everything that has been happening around us that we weren’t previously picking up. I, for instance, have never been so aware of the extent of which racism still prevails in America. I mean, I was aware of it, but it was so part of the everyday normal for a lot of people of color that I think it was just unfortunately overlooked. Never had I ever been so aware of racism being so rampant in the country, especially subtle prejudice. Never had I ever been so aware of how people of color are pitted against each other. Never had I ever been so aware that Asian Americans are used as “model minorities” and widely viewed as submissive people to further create a social hierarchical divide. Recently, it has really been heartbreaking to see the news of so Asian Americans being targeted by racists; the many Asians who were ruthlessly attacked for being Asian and directly “causing” the pandemic or the Chinese American teen in Pennsylvania who was mercilessly shot by the police. Society is on the brink of creating self-driving cars and AI robots, yet how has the social hierarchy system from earlier centuries continue to develop its way into the 21st century?
Until we all bond together and choose to actively fight racism, fight for not only for people of our ethnicity but other ethnicities that deserve the same human rights and treatment as well, it’s not going to get better. There is no better way to contribute to change, change for the better, change to honor our country’s fundamental ideals of equality than simply just starting a conversation, whether it be with ourselves or others.