Wednesday, May 27, 2009

My Story as an Asian American Pt. 2

(this is more of bunch of random thoughts today)

(me and my books at young age, even back then I had TBR piles! btw i swear every Asian kid has that same exact bowl haircut style with the bangs from the age of 1-3)

Growing up Asian American has been difficult at times. I was one of the very few AA kids in my grade, and throughout my entire 13 years in public school, I can remember probably less than 75 kids all together who were Asian. Therefore if you were Asian, you stood out. I would get teased constantly about my eyes, all the way up to middle school. People would come up to me and pull their eyes and go "Chinese, Japanese, Siamese" at me. I seriously do NOT get the point at that. So my eyes are a little bit more squintier than Caucasian eyes. It does not mean I see less than they do. I also was the barometer for being tan in high school. People would hold their arm up to me and compare their skin with mine. There would always be exclamations of "I'm almost as dark as Deborah" or "Yes! I'm darker than Deborah". Did it hurt? Well the tan thing not so much, but there's only so much you can take about the eyes. To this day, it REALLY bugs me. I have told my fiance, I pray to God our kids get his eyes (he's Caucasian) because I do not want them going through what I did. Kids are going to be mean regardless but when kids tease each other because of racial difference, that's just totally uncalled for.

There was this one horrible time in church when I was about 7 and we were singing in children's choir. My family was the only Asian family in the entire church. It was a Southern Baptist church. My sister and I were chosen to sing the song "Jesus Loves the Little Children." If you are unfamiliar with that song, there is a line that goes "Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in his sight." Now why would the little Asian girls get picked to sing the only song that mentions race?

I was a total twinkie in high school school. (Yellow on the outside, white on the inside). To be honest, there would be times when I didn't see myself as Asian, simply because I didn't really have anyone to relate about my culture with. Only until someone make a "ching chong chung" comment would I be brought back to reality. Sometimes I wonder if being Asian might have been why I didn't date a lot in high school. I felt like the guys were totally fine with being friends with me but dating me would have been too "different". They would have stood out. Meanwhile in college, whole different experience where guys WANT to date you BECAUSE you're Asian.

It's expected for an AA to major in two things in college - engineering or premed. I tried out the engineering route. Really. I wanted to be a chemical engineer. Unfortunately that did not work out too well. I'm now a history major. There aren't that many Asians in history. Both in my undergrad and grad courses (so far) I'm the only Asian.
If you've seen The Joy Luck Club, my life was pretty much like that. Model minority was the perfect phrase to describe us. We had to do very well in school. We got grounded for getting B's, if you got an A-, you were lectured as to why you didn't get an A. Straight A's were never rewarded, they were expected. Which was why I totally envied the kids in my class who got money for getting just B's!!!

I wonder sometimes about my ancestors in China. We have no record or names or any idea of who they were. So thanks to my vivid imagination, I like to think they were somehow connected to the imperial family or perhaps warriors like Mulan or even heroes like those in Crouching Tiger. It's also quite funny because my family owns a pug, and pugs used to be the pets of the imperial family. I'll never know...


  1. So sad about the other kids teasing you. =/ I had my share of mockers because I was always the shortest kid in my class by quite a bit some years and it's not really something you forget even if you do put it behind you and embrace what you are. I'm marrying a small guy and I will admit that I am worried that our kids will inherit all our tiny genes. I hope they get the tall genes that are hiding in both of our families.

    I never got money for B's either. I never got money for any grades, actually. Not fair! LOL.

    Thank you for sharing your own story with us.

  2. Children are so cruel sometimes. I am truly hopeful that traditional prejudices are being to break down. I think my niece's generation (she's 14) have much more open minds. At least I like to think so.

  3. Great post, Deborah! It's always so hard to be different when you're a child. I do think all of those experiences made you stronger and made you the wonderful person you are today. It also means you'll raise very tolerant children. My mother is first generation American and had to put up with teasing as a child, so ethnic slurs were never tolerated in our home.

  4. Ugh, why are kids so cruel sometimes? People compared their tans or lacks of tan to me in school; even without a hint of a tan, they're always darker than me! Sorry the church acted ignorantly as well.

    I'm glad you're sharing your experiences here.


Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving your thoughts. Comments on posts that are older than 14 days are moderated so don't worry if your comment doesn't show up automatically.