by Vi Nguyen

When I was in the 3rd grade, I discovered how it felt to be yellow. Sure I knew I was Asian and that I had tan skin, but I had never felt more Yellow than in that moment when my classmates jeered at me for my oriental food and facial features. In the grand scheme of things, I had always thought I was just like every one of those rosy cheeked kids and nothing as stupid as the hue of our skins would be a reason for difference. As I could recall, among the faces that used to haunt my dreams, a nice looking girl stared into my eyes and told me to go back to where I came from. I think about those words often, their heaviness, attempting to build distance. Their heaviness, attempting to reduce my identity to the color of my skin. I believe that children are not born spewing racism or prejudice but rather, they are taught these sickening habits. If they can learn to hate, they can also learn to love. As the African proverb says “It takes a village to raise a child.” We have to each our children to see more than color. To build bridges, not walls. Something like my skin, or my eyes, or my smelly Asian food should not be the marker of my identity but rather the content of my character.

 

Today, Asian Americans are considered to be the model minority because it is believed that we have overcome prejudice through means of education. In context, it is not right to compare the struggles of one minority group against each other (one as significant as black enslavement). In reality, racism is still very prevalent and has destroyed families and affected opportunities for minorities. Using the term “model minority” by any means, pits marginalized groups against each other, and thus instilling this cycle of discrimination. The other problem is that we are also the silent minority in which we subconsciously fail to speak out against discrimination by staying neutral. We have decided to tolerate oppression and microaggressions in order to reap the benefits of “blending in.” We have decided to ignore the cries of our fellow brothers and sisters in order to succumb to the woe that is whiteness. The truth is that all of our struggles are intertwined and we must not fall into the trap of complacency or self contentment.

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