Sometimes I Forget I Am A Minority

Sometimes I Forget I Am A Minority

But should that bother me?

The title says it all. I forget. How do I forget? I, fortunately, feel lucky enough to have never undergone much adversity when it came to my race - Asian. Specifically, however, I am Korean. "North or South?" one may ask. Without hesitation, I would answer "South" and jokingly respond that there would be a slim-to-none chance I would be standing here talking to you if I was North Korean.

I've grown up experiencing a range of demographics from moving homes throughout my lifetime. In between moving schools as well, I learned about many cultures and religions growing up. But in between dance classes, horse shows, and even in the classroom, I never saw myself as anything, really. I knew I was Korean. I knew I was American. But straddling both realms was something I didn't think I'd struggle with, until now.

When I was on the beach in the Dominican Republic, I remember my brothers and I were making a sand castle. We were laughing and playing, speaking in English, until a grown man walking by stopped to say, "Ni Hao." I knew that was "Hello" in Chinese. But that experience became a story to laugh about later on.

I've taken Mandarin at school for the past 7 years of my life, and it didn't hit any of my peers that there was a possibility of me not being Chinese. It wasn't until I was asked if I spoke the language at home, if I was fluent, or I just flat out said I was tri-lingual in Korean (because my parents are Korean), Mandarin, and English.

The other day, I got a text late at night, from someone I had not heard from in a while. It read, "Have you ever ate a dog?" I knew this person. I knew this wasn't a question I would be asked from this person. They know me. Until the next morning, I got an apology because the question was asked to prove a point.

Sometimes I forget I am a minority because I never saw myself any different from anyone else around me. There would be times where I would strongly stand my ground amongst my differences with others, but most of the time, I just thought of myself as, well, American.

But I am an American. I was born in New Jersey. I never had a problem with friends. My parents tried their best to protect me from ever having to face any obstacle that could be associated with my ethnicity. But I am proud of who I am. Heck, my college essay was even about my culture and how my "Teddy" was also from Korea.

This may be an uncomfortable topic for some. And for anyone that knows me, this isn't really a topic I would ever really talk about at all. But maybe that's the problem. And I find some kind of responsibility to shed light on this issue that anyone can face, forgetting their "roots" in the process of "Americanization." But before I conclude, I just wanted to thank my friends.

Past, current, and even future.

For all the people that have known me in my lifetime, never pointing out our differences, never excluding me on purpose, and accepting me for who I am. I feel so grateful to have never met someone who didn't do any of that.

I am proud to be an American. This country is so diverse. But sometimes we try to ignore our differences and find a relatable similarity in the smaller, maybe even materialistic things in life such as a pair of Jack Rogers or Lululemon pants. There is nothing wrong with that. But it doesn't hurt to embrace our differences, too.

Cover Image Credit: Naya Shim

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Sorry Not Sorry, My Parents Paid For My Coachella Trip

No haters are going to bring me down.

With Coachella officially over, lives can go back to normal and we can all relive Beyonce’s performance online for years to come. Or, if you were like me and actually there, you can replay the experience in your mind for the rest of your life, holding dear to the memories of an epic weekend and a cultural experience like no other on the planet.

And I want to be clear about the Beyonce show: it really was that good.

But with any big event beloved by many, there will always be the haters on the other side. The #nochella’s, the haters of all things ‘Chella fashion. And let me just say this, the flower headbands aren’t cultural appropriation, they’re simply items of clothing used to express the stylistic tendency of a fashion-forward event.

Because yes, the music, and sure, the art, but so much of what Coachella is, really, is about the fashion and what you and your friends are wearing. It's supposed to be fun, not political! Anyway, back to the main point of this.

One of the biggest things people love to hate on about Coachella is the fact that many of the attendees have their tickets bought for them by their parents.

Sorry? It’s not my fault that my parents have enough money to buy their daughter and her friends the gift of going to one of the most amazing melting pots of all things weird and beautiful. It’s not my fault about your life, and it’s none of your business about mine.

All my life, I’ve dealt with people commenting on me, mostly liking, but there are always a few that seem upset about the way I live my life.

One time, I was riding my dolphin out in Turks and Cacaos, (“riding” is the act of holding onto their fin as they swim and you sort of glide next to them. It’s a beautiful, transformative experience between human and animal and I really think, when I looked in my dolphin’s eye, that we made a connection that will last forever) and someone I knew threw shade my way for getting to do it.

Don’t make me be the bad guy.

I felt shame for years after my 16th birthday, where my parents got me an Escalade. People at school made fun of me (especially after I drove into a ditch...oops!) and said I didn’t deserve the things I got in life.

I can think of a lot of people who probably don't deserve the things in life that they get, but you don't hear me hating on them (that's why we vote, people). Well, I’m sick of being made to feel guilty about the luxuries I’m given, because they’ve made me who I am, and I love me.

I’m a good person.

I’m not going to let the Coachella haters bring me down anymore. Did my parents buy my ticket and VIP housing? Yes. Am I sorry about that? Absolutely not.

Sorry, not sorry!

Cover Image Credit: Kaycie Allen

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The Cultural Diaspora Of Being A Filipinx American

It's a struggle when your culture has been shaped by Asian, Spanish and Pacific Islander influences

I identify as a Filipinx-American student. I've always been in touch with my culture, whether it be visiting the Philippines or cooking traditional foods. Something that isn't talked about a lot, however, is the feeling of cultural diaspora Filipinx people face, especially if they grew up in America.

For me, whenever I went to the Philippines I felt "too American." I never learned how to speak Tagalog. Even though I was comfortable with the culture, growing up in America gave me a level of privilege compared to if I grew up in the Philippines.

However, in America, I was "too ethnic."

I'm used to eating foods that were deemed "gross." I practiced traditional dances that would be seen as "weird" to someone who was unfamiliar with the culture. I grew up listening to my parent's broken English, which made it hard for me to learn proper English grammar in school.

The Philippine culture itself is confusing as well. The traditions are very similar to different Pacific Islander nations, but we are considered Asian. Due to the colonization of Spain, our Spanish influences differentiate us apart from Asian cultures. However, we also don't fit into the Spanish culture due to our Asian backgrounds as well.

Being a Filipinx-American is being in a constant state of not knowing exactly what mold you belong in. I'm too Asian to be considered "American," too American to be considered "Asian," too "Asian" to be "Pacific Islander", but too "Spanish" to be considered "Asian."

So where do I actually belong?

However, it was so hard to understand this growing up. I felt like I needed to be put into a certain place in society. I needed to find a group of people I could connect with. I felt too different among all the white friends I had. But among my friends of color, I felt as if I didn't have a strong enough connection to where my family was from because I myself had never grown up there.

By looking at me, people didn't know my ethnicity. I was too tan to be Asian and had too many Asian features to be Spanish or Pacific Islander. I found myself having to explain who I was. Before, I felt like this was a chore needing to explain myself. Now, however, I realized the beauty in it. I get to explain my culture, how having all of these different backgrounds make the Filipinx culture so unique. It can get exhausting, but that's what happens when you are a person of color in America.

I spent so much time trying to figure out where I "fit" in. I didn't realize that there was no need to. I was trying to figure out what kind of stereotype to conform to. In reality, I had already found my place. Being Filipinx itself was unique in America. I needed to embrace the unique quality I had more and not hide it because I was too afraid of being different. In the Philippines, I needed to understand the privilege I had and be able to give back to the community.

Whether it be sending tons of "Balikbayan Boxes" to the islands, or keeping in touch with family members overseas. My culture is unlike other Asian cultures due to the different islander and Spanish influences. This is what makes Filipinx people so special.

We are basically the mixing pot of the Pacific.

Cover Image Credit: Jaclyn Samson

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