A Model Minority… and Ferguson?

Things are happening. Things are happening in America that I don’t even understand. Things are happening across the country and at my little college in the middle of nowhere. It’s weird witnessing something so huge blow up in your face when you’re thousands of miles away. It’s hard for me to focus on anything here when I think about how something so important is happening back at home. And yet, I don’t think I’d be able to handle it if I were at home. Because things are coming to light now that people have been shutting away, pretending that they don’t exist. But here’s the thing. They do exist. And I don’t typically blog about things like this, but I have so many feelings right now and my word vomit needs to come out somewhere.

Ferguson and racism and people not understanding what its like to be seen as a color and not a person. These are the things that have been bothering me. Not so much the not understanding part, but the not even trying to understand part. Because I honestly don’t understand myself, but I am really fucking trying. Frankly, the reason its so hard for me to understand is because this whole situation has put Asian Americans in a bit of a strange place. We, being the so-called “model minority”. To be quite honest, I’m not even completely sure what that means.

I just can’t even.

The thing is, I guess if you’ve never been a minority, it would be nearly impossible to understand what its like. Growing up, I wanted nothing more than to be a white person, because that’s what was normal. That’s what was beautiful. But more than that, it meant that I would have a personality beyond being just an Asian person. You would think that as a twenty-year old, I would’ve gotten over it. But you know what? I haven’t. Every time I walk into a new setting, I find myself having to prove that “I’m different. That I’m not just another Asian.” Whatever that means. I don’t even do it purposefully, its just part of my subconscious now. And I know that I shouldn’t have to prove myself wherever I go, but unfortunately, its become such a normal habit that I don’t even think about it.

The strange thing is, I just spent three months in Japan where for once, I wasn’t a part of the minority. But there certainly was a bit of racism going on. I spent a lot of time with expats who had been living there for thirty plus years. They admitted that they could never be fully satisfied because no matter how great they spoke Japanese or conformed to the culture, they would still be just another white person, never quite accepted. Most of their social circles contained just other expats because it was hard for them to become as close to Japanese people. One of my favorite professors talked about how he hoped to retire to America because there he would at least be accepted and have his own niche; but he couldn’t because he had raised a family in Japan so he had roots there now. To be sure, as a country built by immigrants, America certainly is more welcoming to foreigners than Japan is, but some of this stuff is sadly all too familiar.

I’m in Taiwan now. And despite the fact that I wasn’t raised here, I’ve always felt so at home here, so comfortable. Because here I get to be me, not just that Asian girl that people confuse with the only other Asian girl in the room. It’s a pretty nice feeling.

But Ferguson. And whatever in the world is happening at Williams right now. I’m with you. Words can’t express what I’m feeling right now, but I have so much respect. I might not be able to understand exactly what its like to be every other minority group in the U.S., but I do know what its like to be seen only as your race.

It just pisses me off when people say that these “minorities” are making a big deal out of nothing. Seriously?


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