#MyAsianAmericanStory
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Politics and Activism

#MyAsianAmericanStory

The hashtag that sparked political controversy and cultural awareness.

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#MyAsianAmericanStory

In the United States, there are currently eighteen million, two hundred thousand of us. We come from the east and bring our cultures with us. We try our best to assimilate into this melting pot of a country. However, it seems that within that pot where all cultures supposedly blend together and co-exist, there are still times when if one looks closely, they can see distinctions being defined.

The Asian-American community in the US is steadily growing past eighteen million, two hundred thousand. And as more people discover their city's Chinatown and immerse themselves into the Asian culture, there are still many stereotypes and racist assumptions being made nationwide.

Most recently, Jeb Bush, a 2016 presidential hopeful, used the term, "anchor babies" while campaigning. He was referring to people who come to the US illegally and have children so that they can become US citizens. He later defended his use of the term against backlash that it was offensive to immigrants, by stating that "this is how all politics play" and "frankly, it's more related to Asian people". This term is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as offensive and disparaging.

After hearing this, a high school student, named Jason Fong, took to Twitter to express his outrage of Bush's statement and used, #MyAsianAmericanStory, to encourage others to tell their stories. Many people expressed the hardships they had as immigrants from Asia or their stories as first generation children. The hashtag later became a nationwide trending topic.

However, although "anchor babies" and its degrading undertones are being noticed nationwide, other racist remarks are still swept to the background. We Asian-Americans have done our best to embrace the American culture. We eat burgers, we indulge in the fashion styles, sports, activities, etc. But has the melting pot embraced our culture? Some places, yes. But there is still resentment and negativity towards Asians who show others their culture and are judged for it.

For example, if I bring noodles my mom made for lunch to school, classmate's faces immediately scrunch up in disgust and question what I am eating. They proudly boast that they enjoy lo-mein from Mr. Chang's Chinese restaurant down the street and love Chinese food, but they have never really had true Chinese food and criticize me when I eat it right in front of them.

Or what about when people put their hands to their eyes and pull them outward to make their eyes longer, to supposedly resemble an Asian person's eyes. Most people do it good-heartedly as a joke, but it's interpreted as hurtful and offensive to the physical appearances of Asians.

Other offensives are less obvious. When I get the question, "what are you?" My typical answer is, "I'm a human". Because I am. I breathe, manipulate language to communicate, have feelings, and all other aspects that a dictionary would define a human as. I don't consider myself necessarily different in any fundamental way. But then I get the question, "No, like, where are you from?" To this question, I answer, "New York". Because I was born and raised in New York. The worst, is when someone asks me if I was "off the boat." I know they are looking for an answer pertaining to my ethnicity, but they could simply ask in a less obtuse and more polite way, like, "what ethnicity are you?"

There are a lot of more judgements and condescending statements being thrown out there by uneducated people. But, shouldn't we as Americans, embrace every aspect of new culture that comes our way? Shouldn't we understand the fundamental beliefs and values that make certain people, different from who we are? Learning about others, is only advantageous to us, allowing us to expand our knowledge and comprehension of people. Jeb Bush's comment may have been made innocently, but it's those comments like that, that we should know are not to be used and need to be more informed about.


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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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