ay sha

…get it? …cus his eyes?

I spent all my life in a predominately white community in Northern New Jersey. In elementary school, I never really saw myself as different, but when a kid told me, “Why don’t you go back to China?”, it just rubbed me the wrong way. 3 reasons why:

1. I didn’t even know the kid.
2. I’m not even Chinese.
3. He was just doing that to get laughs.

The only person who did laugh was that boy who said the hilarious joke, but I kept my cool and just gave him the look. Throughout the years there were many incidents where people and even my friends started to make fun of me. There were  many times when it didn’t bother me and a few times when it did, but I always kept my cool. I never thought of it as bullying, but the whole situation was awkward. Awkward because I knew where they were coming from but at the same time it was belittling. (I was a kid: an excuse for being a _____.)

*** To be honest, when people insult me, which they rarely do, it is very hard for me to get offended because either they’re my friends and joking or they have very low self-esteem or they don’t know me.

Like Earl Sweatshirt says in Chum, “Too black for the white kids, and too white for the black,” except I’m not black. (나는 한국인 이에요.) I never really belonged to an actual cultural group, but honestly, it doesn’t bother me because I don’t use my ethnicity to define who I am. As I grew older and encountered more and more people, I met people that were very similar to me. They, like me, a certain ethnicity, but identified with the white community.

Looking at America as a whole is difficult because it is made up of so many different kinds of people. The internet serves as a social community for Americans today, but still this idea of a post-racial America kind of reminds me of how it was on the playground before the incident with the boy, a time when people didn’t see myself as Korean, but as myself.

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3 comments

  1. I was a little confused when you mentioned that the “idea of a post-racial America kind of reminds me of how it was on the playground where kids knew that inside they were all the same,” when you started your post explaining how a kid singled you out and told you, “Why don’t you go back to China?”. I feel like there is a dichotomy between the two statements. Perhaps you can elaborate on how children, from a very young age, are very influential which inhibits America to be a post-racial society. For example, Jane Elliot’s blue eyes and brown eyes experiment is a great example of that (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VeK759FF84s).

  2. Your point on never feeling actually part of any ethnic group because that’s not how you define yourself is a great way to look at this whole racial debate. It shouldn’t be the determining factor of who you are or what you act like, you should choose to be whoever you want based on your personality. Also really liked the reference to that Earl Sweatshirt song, that bar is almost the same thing you were explaining.

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