Growing up as an Asian American, I have always thought of race as something that isn't very "black and white." Yes, there are other races too, but being of the Asian race, has taught me that sometimes cultures and values between different races can overlap. I never knew it back then, when famous Asian American celebrities would have said the same thing in their interviews, when they were being interviewed in the hot seat with all the glitz and glamour from their fans. I didn't realize then that their identity meant just as much, if not more than the Gucci earrings they were wearing, that was starting to lose some of the glistening amidst the seriousness.
If someone asked me to define what being an "Asian American" means, I would have stuttered a bit back then and not really know the right words to respond. I would have said, "It means to be of the Asian ethnicity" or "It means my ancestors are from Asia." Race was never really something I thought about in my head, until recently as I got older and realized that these things do matter.
My parents used to tell me that it was important to have Asian friends, as well as multiethnic friend groups. Although I've had multiethnic friend groups, I have also had Asian friends within those groups, as well. Although this doesn't necessarily count as a typical friend group consisting of one race, I learned it the hard way in high school that this is where I belong.
But ever since I heard about the Atlanta shootings, I began to wonder, "Is my race just a race, or is it something more?" Everytime I have seen the many Instagram stories and posts about the Atlanta shootings as well as other Asian American targeted crimes, I would feel a sense of feeling lost to how much I care about what happens to the other side of my race-the "Asian" part in "Asian-American."
One thing I can say for sure, is how my parents have worked really hard to create a new life for themselves once they came here many, many years ago. They risked everything to start their own businesses and become acquainted with the shiny emblem of the "American Dream." Although they have adapted to being "Korean-Americans" rather than just "Koreans," I will always keep the piece of the arduous work and strength that led me to believe that the "American Dream" can also be achieved by POCs or someone of a minority race. And that good things do happen to those who remain faithful to their background.
If someone were to ask me what it means to be "Asian American," now, I think I would have answered differently from than if I were asked that years ago. I would think about the Atlanta shootings and all the lives that were put at stake, because of people who chose to stay true to the Asian race. After I see a flashback of all of these things, is when I will come up with the answer to that question..