Asian Pride = Asian Hope MAG
Standing upfor yourself is usually hard. But for me, it comes easily. You see, I’mnot normal. Oh, I was born with all my body parts in the right spots,giving me a normal appearance, and I have a normal family. On the phoneI sound like a normal teenage girl, with boys and clothes and moviesfloating around my head. You would never guess I’m aCommie.
That’s because I’m not. I never was. "Commie"is a slur used to describe someone who’s Asian (especially if thatsomeone looks like she’s from a Communist country). Not all people areracist, but an awful lot of the time it seems that way.
Sincekindergarten I’ve learned to stand up for myself. After all, how manypeople you know were plucked from the room and sent to English as asecond language classes when they could read and write better thananyone else in the class? That’s what happened to me, but it took me ayear to figure out it was because I was the only Asian in theschool.
When I was seven, my friends and I were walking home fromschool when an elderly lady asked if I was Japanese. I told her I wasAmerican, but that my family was from Taiwan. She said I was lying andcalled me "a damn Jap" and other things that sounded mean. Ididn’t understand what most of it meant until years later when one of myfriends taught me the art of cursing. At the time, I didn’t understandwhy she thought I was Japanese when I told her I wasAmerican.
You can’t run away from racism. A lot of my friends areAsian, and we all experience it. We stand up for each other, a group ofguys and girls filled with hope. Funny, though, how I still feelterrible about every slam made against me, my friends, my family andeven total strangers with Asian blood.
Some people talk about"Asian Pride," but I thought that was just a way to showprejudice, and a way to get beat up. Still, it makes me feel horriblewhen I see other people get hurt, even though logic tells me it isn’t myfault. Another part of me remembers that when I’ve been insulted, no onestood up for me.
I realized how stupid it was for me to rejectAsian Pride a few days ago when I was walking home from school with mylittle brother. A group of eighth graders was trailing us. They couldn’tcare less about me, so I cared even less about them until one kiddecided to pick on me.
"Hey!" he taunted. "What’syour name? Kimono?" he sneered.
I ignored him.
"Nice glasses, Commie!"
Commie? I’m not a Communist!I’m a citizen of the United States, a country that was a democracy thelast time I checked. I’m from Taiwan, where most people dislikecommunist China.
I don’t speak Taiwanese; I barely understand it.I can speak Mandarin, a form of Chinese also used on Taiwan and MainlandChina, pretty fluently. So I muttered some bad words in Mandarin andresisted the urge to kick him, hard – I couldn’t because his friendswould give in to peer pressure and gang up on me.
I looked overmy shoulder. The big eighth graders seemed to have lostinterest.
Good, I thought.
Wrong. They were teasing myeight-year-old brother.
All the past insults swirled in my head.I realized I had to do something; my brother didn’t deserve this. I wasoutnumbered. I was a girl. I was Asian. I was American.
I supposeI suddenly got this egotistical Asian Pride.
I gathered all mycourage, swung around and gave those eighth graders a wicked grin."I am not a Communist," I announced bravely for all to hear."I understand English. Here’s an international symbol." Istuck out my middle finger and held it just inches from the ringleader’sface. "Do you know what it stands for?"
Oh, great job,I thought sarcastically. Get yourself beat up in front of your littlebrother.
Turns out those big, tall eighth-grade boys never got achance to beat me up. I eyed the ringleader a few more seconds, and hedidn’t seem as big and strong anymore. Then I turned around and walkedaway, head up, shoulders straight.
I felt both good and bad aboutthat.
I guess a surge of Asian Pride just flowed through me, andit helped me realize I could make a difference, though the next timeI’ll try a more subtle approach.
Because now I not only haveAsian Pride, I have Asian Hope.