People will put in every possible effort in order to stand out. Most people strive to separate themselves from the pack and be different. Well, sometimes it sucks to be different. Growing up a minority, I was distinctly "different" from everyone. Because I was unlike the rest, my identity was stripped from me and I was held to a standard created by others.
I absolutely love the game of basketball. I grew up with hoop dreams, fantasized about going to the NBA, and binge-watched every game on TV. I loved this game. However, as I started to grow older and older, I was faced with a harsh reality.
Being the only Asian on a middle school basketball team full of African Americans was interesting, to say the least. Aside from learning all the neighborhood slang and popular dances, we were a very strong team. Although we played elite basketball, I wasn't having fun anymore. Every time I'd step onto the court, I'd get laughed right back off. I didn't belong. People who have never seen me shoot a single shot had already counted me out. My entire body would go numb as soon as I stepped on the court. The name-calling and evil laughs from the bench behind me would get into my head every single time. This really opened my eyes to stereotyping and how easy it is to fall victim to it.
I eventually quit basketball once I got to high school. It doesn't mean that I still don't get called "Jeremy Lin" every time I play in a public setting. Yeah, why don't we just call that Chinese kid by the name of the only Chinese player in the NBA! Wow, that sure is reasonable. That'd be like if I just called every black kid in the gym "Lebron James" and every white guy "Larry Bird." Not only would everyone on the court look at me funny, but people would consider that flat out wrong. But, it isn't wrong when people don't call me by my actual name? People really have to chill with this standardizing. Just because I'm Asian and play basketball, doesn't mean I'm Jeremy Lin. I have a name, you know. Oh, but it only gets worse once we step inside the classroom.
I like appreciation for my hard work. When I get an A on an exam, I expect my efforts and studying to be appreciated, not responded with "Oh, you only scored so high because you're Asian." I cannot fathom how much this statement angers me. I've been told it my entire life and I've kept my mouth shut every time. It's not like my race is blessed with calculators in our brains. We're all human here. I have to study just as hard as everyone else and when all my efforts are hidden behind my yellow skin, it might be easy to credit my race. My race is pretty damn hard-working.
Racial stereotyping is something that's easily overlooked. To be fair, stereotypes are stereotypes because there is a partial truth. However, not everyone falls under the standard that society places on them. It's essential that we recognize each other as human individuals and prevent the categorization of each other based on something that is out of our control.