Asianess: The Incurable Disease

 I’ve always disliked the word Asianess. It sounds like a disease, one that people refuse to openly converse about, and shun those that have it. I suppose I feel that way because I am Asian, and I have been shunned for my ethnicity. The popularity of Asian culture has grown over the years, and it is enlightening that such diverse customs and traditions are gaining positive recognition. However, it is important to recognize the excessive romanticization of Asian culture, and the hate Asian people have experienced for their culture.

People are really interested when they learn that I am Korean. They want to talk to me about K-pop, bubble tea, and while it is enjoyable for the first few minutes, as soon as I begin to dig deeper within my culture people get uncomfortable. People become bothered to realize that there is more to me than dumplings. 

I was very concerned about writing an article about Asian culture in my school’s newspaper club due to the fact that I’m Asian therefore I am unrelatable. As soon as I write about something other than rice such as traditional clothing and beliefs, people grow bored. People grew bored hearing me talk about my culture, and as a result I have grown silent about my identity. If I were to talk about my culture, I would only converse about my culture to other Asian-American peers. Although our traditions were not always similar, we were all similar in that our cultures were different from American culture.  

When I try to connect to other people through other topics unrelated to culture such as hobbies and academics, people find me more unrelatable and irritating. When the discussion of grades comes up among my peers, it has been decided that my success is not because of my hard work or ambition, but because I am Asian.  I cannot be hard-working because of my personality or interests, I am only hard-working because, “Asian people are overachievers that are expected to exceed everyone with less effort than others.” Because of the expectations held for Asian-Americans, I feel pressured to complete my assignments perfectly, without asking for the help of others. I am not supposed to complain about my grades, because I should easily get better grades than my peers. I am not supposed to complain about the difficulty of certain subjects, and I am also not expected to enjoy certain subjects as well. When I tell people that my favorite subject is English, people are surprised. I am supposed to have an excessive admiration for mathematics, and my English is supposed to be poor and broken. Because I am shamed for my interests and put down for my success, I have grown silent about my hobbies and interests as well. 

I was not only silent in high school, but I was especially silent during the pandemic. I learned about the discrimination Asian students were facing because of the pandemic, and I had also noticed that in classes a few students distanced themselves from me specifically. I started to become more aware of my actions. I kept myself from coughing or clearing my throat to prevent misunderstandings from other students. I also had felt the fear of the idea of leaving my house and getting beat up. People may believe that discrimination can make certain groups stronger; however, that is not the case. 

Discrimination did not make me strong, but instead it made me afraid. I remember reading stories about Chinese women getting hit with a rock and a Korean child getting punched by a middle-age-woman. I was horrified to hear the acts of violence and verbal abuse Asians had faced. When I began to be more aware of discrimination towards Asians, I remembered incidents that had happened in the past. I remembered how at my elementary school a student slanted their eyes at a Chinese exchange student and how I was tested on my pronunciation during a class. 

My experiences with discrimination are small in comparison to the years of discrimination Asian-Americans faced especially during the pandemic. However, despite the simplicity of my experiences with racism, I was able to share my experiences with other kids who experienced similar events. During the pandemic, I joined a volunteer group that was made up of mostly Korean-Americans. I was able to vocalize my struggles with my identity, and I was also able to hear others’ personal stories dealing with Asian Hate. 

After recognizing other situations other Asian students have been in, I realized I was lucky to attend a more diverse school district. The pandemic truly helped more to understand discrimination students face. I believe that the effects of discrimination can teach my peers because they need to stand up against it. When people stand up against something together, they become stronger. With that strength, people can get through much more in high school. I learned that even though there are schools where more Asian students are discriminated against, I do not have to ignore the racism I face.