I’ve decided to a bit more truth telling on this blog and I thought I would start with this truth-telling confession, especially in light of all the race discussions and because it’s been on my mind recently.
Sometimes, I wish I was white.
Growing up, my neighborhood was predominantly white, but we did have a good number of Asians and I had a nice group of Asian friends in high school. It wasn’t that I identified more with Asians or non-Asians, but it was just me trying to figure out where I was supposed to be.
Culturally, we were a bit Korean, but everything else was American. I was born in America and I saw myself as American – not even as an Asian-American. Growing up was really confusing because I did encounter many instances of racial discrimination which led me to be active in numerous multicultural/diversity constitution writings and so forth. But everywhere I looked, most of my friends were white and our neighborhood was white. I aspired to be white – to have the big eyes, the raised bridge on my nose, the blonde or chestnut brown hair, and I coveted blue eyes greatly.
I never saw my Asian features as anything beautiful, but a hindrance to any kind of advancement. Once people saw that I was Asian, I felt like it was a huge strike against me. I felt foreign and exotic in my own home country.
When I went to college, I had never been exposed to so many Asians! The church I attended was predominantly Korean and Chinese and it was nice to be around so many people that looked like me. However, it made me more aware of the limitations that may come because I am Asian.
I still remember having a conversation about my dream of becoming President of the United States one day – a guy pointed out that I had two strikes against me. I was a woman AND I was Asian. There was no way that I would even have a chance. It was really disappointing to hear that and quite crushing. I put those dreams on hold quite quickly.
After college, when I was working as a teacher in Philadelphia, I remember being called racial slurs by the elementary school students and how much that really intimidated and hurt me. It made me think really hard about why I had even felt any intimidation. It made me face the fact that I had my own racial hangups. I moved on from teaching and went it to finance where I encountered another hurdle because of my race. I was told that I would not advance much further than associate status because I was Asian. They only wanted white people. I could not believe my ears – was I dreaming that this was being said out loud?!
Unfortunately, no. Since this conversation took place off of work grounds, I couldn’t do anything about it. The guy ended up apologizing for his comments, but I ended up leaving the company about 6 months later and feeling quite jaded.
When Barack Obama was elected president, I cried. There was a bit of hope and sadness all mixed together. It felt like everyone was saying that racism was done. We’ve moved past all that. But I don’t think we really did. I think racism still exists – it’s just not as overt. For me, that seems a little scarier.
I feel really sad that I wish I was white. I hope my daughter doesn’t feel that way. For me, even as an adult, I still wish that I was white. If I was, I feel like things would be a lot smoother for my daughter.
I know that I would definitely have a lot less mistrust and skepticism in regards to race. I know that I would not feel that terrible feeling of feeling out of place and not belonging when I am the minority in a group. I feel powerless in so many ways and that my voice is not heard many times because of the way that I look. I feel so out of place in this place that I am supposed to call my country and my home. It’s an odd feeling to have.
This is my truth telling confession – I wish I was white.
***This post is not saying that if you are white, your life is all great and you should not have anything to say in this, but it’s just a truthful confession of how I feel.***