Growing Up Asian-American Told By GIFS

Growing Up Asian-American Told By GIFS

5 things you can definitely relate to if you grew up in an Asian-American household.
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Growing up Asian-American, there were a lot of questions people asked me; some being reasonable and some were just flat out ridiculous. There are also a lot of things that you realize that only you do and that none of your non-Asian friends do.

1. No Shoes In The House

EVER. As soon as you walk into the house, you better take off your shoes and leave 'em at the door because mother would not be pleased with you tracking all this outside dirt into the freshly cleaned house. And when your friends came over, you would have to tell them to take off their shoes and they would be momentarily confused and you have to explain, "It's an Asian thing." But you can never forget the look on your mom's face when you took more than two steps in the house with your shoes on...

2. The Fear of Telling Your Parents Your Grade

That moment you were in class...your teacher is handing back your test and you pray that it's an A. Ever since I was in elementary school, I was expected to excel in my classes. Whether I was in the most advanced reading group or got the most advanced spelling list, (I was spelling postmortem at the age of eight.) I was always expected to get the best of the best of grades. It sounds so stereotypical, which it is, but I always needed to get that A. I remember a specific time where I got a 96 on a test and my mom asked me, "Where did the other four points go?", like REALLY mother, really.

3. That Moment You Pull Out Your VERY Asian Lunch at School

If your mom didn't pack you a super Asian lunch at least once a week IDK what y'all were doing because I was out here in fourth grade pulling out my fried rice and eggrolls while everyone else was chowing down on Chef Boyardee cans and Lunchables. Sometimes, though, you just wanted to be like all the other kids and get to make your own personal pizzas.

4. Your Parents Being Strict On Everything with Money

I have never met someone so meticulous in regards to money like my mother. She isn't completely stingy but rather so careful with her funds and careful not to get charged extra for everything. When we are at the store checking out, she will check what the cashier scanned, how many items she scanned, if the cashier took the security tag off or not, and then look over the receipt immediately after. I thought she was just being extra until one day when my sister and I went shopping without her and we weren't paying attention and the cashier scanned the same item three times and left a security tag on the other. We then had to go all the way back to the mall the next day. Lessons learned.

5. Growing Up Immersed in Culture

Even though I was born in America, my parents always wanted to make sure I never forgot my roots. I attended a school every Sunday in order to learn the Vietnamese language. I was constantly immersed in the Vietnamese culture and I am so grateful for that. Even though I was born and raised in America, I am still full-blown Vietnamese and I will never forget it.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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8 Things I Want Others to Know About Growing Up Chinese-American

Diversity is what makes America great.
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Every individual has their own experience growing up and maturing into adulthood. With the controversy surrounding immigration and the bigotry and prejudice against those who are different from the majority (white or white-passing) that is supported and brought in by the Trump administration, I want to celebrate diversity by sharing my own experience growing up as an American with Chinese descent. My experience was enabled by my immigrant parents, who toiled to make the lives of my brother and me more comfortable in America.

1. Getting tired of being asked "Where are you really from?" a billion times

"Virginia."

"Oh no, I meant...where are you really from? Like ages ago...I'm talking your history-"

What do you want me to tell you? Oh, I'm actually African because that's where the first humans originated from? Or should I tell you I'm Caucasian so maybe you would stop asking me? It's the 21st century, you should phrase it better. You want to know my ethnicity? My heritage? Where my parents are from? I'll happily answer, but oh, just because I might have Chinese heritage, I'm not the same as a Chinese person living in China. I'm an American.

2. Experiencing Chinese culture

The food, man. Receiving red envelopes in the New Year. Learning Chinese. Oh did I mention eating good food? I miss real Chinese food now that I am stuck eating in the dining hall because of the meal plan that I was forced to buy upon entering this university.

3. Growing up with chill parents

Unlike having that "tiger mom" or parents that a numerous amount of Asian-American children complain will beat their bottom if they don't get 200% percent on all their tests, my parents were pretty chill and usually were fairly agreeable with me. Disagreements and arguments in families can't be avoided but all-in-all, I'm glad they just let me...be me.

4. Being bilingual

Learning a language isn't just learning a language. You learn the culture, history, and new philosophies. Also, you can curse out people you don't like in another lang- just joking. We never do that. Ever.

5. You might hate your heritage sometimes

Sometimes people judge you for being different. Sometimes there are ignorant and racist people that make you wonder if there is any point to education. It was not the best decision but as a child, I ended up hating my parents' tongue, and was embarrassed to hear them speak their native language, which is perfectly natural, in public. Eventually, though, I realized what other people thought didn't matter.

6. I learned to embrace my heritage

Because at the end of the day, who cares? Who cares if you judge me because of my background or because of how I look? It doesn't matter. What is a part of you will always be a part of you. That's why I learned to love being Chinese-American and love the Chinese language and love the Chinese culture. It's what I inherited from my parents and I don't care about what anybody else thinks.

7. Not seeing people that looked like me on the screen

Not that saying all the other actors and celebrities aren't amazing enough to look up to, but there is something different about seeing someone that looks like you, that grew up with a similar culture or experience as you, in media that is really special. It's...empowering. It's validation. I am just like any other American and what makes me different doesn't necessarily reduce my opportunity to be whoever I want to be.

I don't want to be reduced to a nerd stereotype. I don't to be reduced to that edgy character that fancies white boys . I want to see Asian people in Hollywood, I want to see Asian actors and actresses in complex character roles because they deserve it. Because we deserve it. I want to see more Asian athletes be recognized for their talents and skills...and they finally ARE.

I am SO proud to see so many Olympic athletes of Asian descent be recognized at Pyeongchang. Having role models similar to you, that look like you, is so crucial.

8. I am an American too

This is a silly memory I remember but I remember wearing this shirt with an American flag on it as a kid at this camp and I could hear this college student who was a camp coach whisper, "Aren't only Americans supposed to wear that?"

And it's even more tragic when this person was also a person of color. Yikes. Anyway, looking East-Asian apparently gets you questions like in #1 and people just think you're foreign. I don't want to feel like I'm viewed as foreign in a land that I was born and raised. It makes a kid growing up, unsure of her identity, feel displaced and feel like she doesn't belong. Americans are the people on this land. There can't be any exclusions, especially since the people that established America weren't even the first people there.

So all I say is, let's support diversity and immigration because diversity MAKES this country. America would not be the same without it.

Cover Image Credit: Julie Zhou

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Thank You To The Ignorant Dummies

How the ignorance of others allowed me to learn and accept myself as a person.
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Kids are mean. As a young girl, I never paid attention to the way I looked, the way I talked, or even the way I dressed. I had lots of friends and always loved meeting new people, but things started to change when I turned twelve. I entered middle school and things soon took a turn.

My elementary school was predominately white, which meant that a lot of my friends were… white. When I entered the seventh grade at a secondary school with a population of over 3,000 kids, I was overwhelmed. There were such diverse groups of people and for the first time, Asians.

I know it sounds silly, but I had never seen so many Asians of my age in one place. I soon started branching out of my immediate friend group and soon made more friends who shared my cultural background Things seemed fine until I started getting called out and bullied for being something I could not help. My race and my culture was something I was assigned at birth and I had no say in the matter.

“Go sit at the Asian table,” “Do you eat dogs?,” “How do you see”, “chink,” were just some of the racial slurs and ignorant comments I had to deal with on a daily basis. It made me embarrassed and it also made me ignorant. I started to close off my Asian friends and I masked my culture. This is something that I still regret.

As we grow older, many aspects can influence the way we see the world around us and the way we identify others and ourselves. I allowed the hateful words of ignorant children mold my identity, but as I grew older I began to understand that I am the main creator of my identity.

Yes, other aspects can have an effect on the shaping process of my identity, but in the end, I am the one who decides where to put it and how it affects me. These occurrences in my adolescence allowed me to realize that there is nothing wrong with who I am and that my culture and my race is something that I am fiercely proud of and I would never change anything about it.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia

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