Stop Ignoring This
Here are my closest friends who I see five days a week and they’re pulling up their eyes and saying ‘ching chong’ to my face and laughing. Was it my appearance?”
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Racism against asians is something that hasn’t really been addressed or talked about until more recently. I never thought it was a problem because subtle racism was around me all the time so i just thought it was normal. When asked to write about this topic, i was really excited to speak up about it but was also met with imposter syndrome because my experience hasn’t been as bad as a lot of the other asians around me. I didn’t feel like i was good enough to write about it and that there were plenty of other people more qualified to talk about this, but that’s when it hit me that my experience of the subtle racism is exactly what we need to be talking about. Most people know that it’s wrong to go out and kill people, that’s just common sense. It’s the everyday jokes, the pulling of the outside corners of the eyes, and the stereotypes where the real damage begins. It’s when we get used to the small things that the bigger things don’t seem as bad. I was born in the United States to a Japanese mother and an American father. I grew up speaking both languages simultaneously and was very blessed to grow up in a safe environment. I was homeschooled up until I graduated high school so I never really experienced any negativity around my race, however, I do have two older sisters who went to a public high school and were met with bullying. I remember hearing about that and not fully understanding what that meant until I was older. Because I was homeschooled, most of my socializing came from gymnastics practice. I started when I was five so I was really close to my teammates and that’s where it all started. There was never any outright bullying, we were all friends and I felt very safe around them, but that’s why it was so confusing. Here are my closest friends who I see five days a week and they’re pulling up their eyes and saying “ching chong” to my face and laughing. Was it my appearance? Being very young, I had no idea what this all meant but I was old enough to know that it had something to do with how I looked. Was my appearance funny looking to them? Was it because I didn’t have blonde hair and blue eyes? Was it the fact that I would bring rice balls for a snack and tea to drink during practice? That was the first moment I felt different from my teammates and that was when it hit me that I was the only Asian on the team. This was the first time I learned to laugh with them even though they were laughing at me. Learning to become complacent starts at a young age. Something else I started to feel and realize as I became older is how fetishized Asian women are. This is something I don’t see being talked about very often but we all know it’s true, in particular Japanese women. It’s that obedient, submissive stereotype that we as Japanese women have that makes us a very easy target for predators and abusers. I have been asked out by multiple men solely based on my race, as if everything that makes me like my personality, doesn’t even matter because they just want a quiet, submissive girlfriend or wife that’ll do anything they say and will please their fragile male ego. Too bad for them I was born an Aries so I have no idea what it means to be obedient. It blows my mind that some men will come here to Japan, where I currently live, to find themselves a wife, and the thing is that it’s super easy for them because I also know so many Japanese girls who will date any foreigner and it’s just a recipe for disaster. But this brings me to my next point; the stereotypes of Asian men. Asian men are not wanted anywhere because they are known as feminine and slim, not assertive, or have small packages. They do not fit the “masculine” stereotype of the west. A male coworker of mine asked me once about what country he could go to where Japanese men are accepted and I couldn’t think of a single place. Asian men and women are not taken seriously, we are in the background of society, often exploited because of our natural submissive nature and the fact that we are “good at everything”.
This is the next harmful stereotype I want to address. I know it doesn’t seem harmful at first glance but think about the damage it can do to the Asians who aren’t good at math or science or don’t want to become doctors when they grow up. I am an Asian who hates math and I am very bad at it. I remember in college talking to a couple of classmates about how difficult math was for me and it was so easily dismissed and I wasn’t validated at all because I was Asian. “What are you talking about, you’re Asian, it’s easy for you”. It made me feel even worse because now I’m bringing down the Asian race by not being good at something and I genuinely felt like a disappointment at the time. The other side to this stereotype is that when we as Asians do accomplish something great, it’s immediately brushed off and not celebrated. “Of course they could do that, they’re Asian so it’s easy to them, they can do anything,” completely disregarding all of the hard work the individual put into their craft. The great accomplishments of Asians deserve to be recognized just as much as anyone else’s because we are all human and we all work hard. But the worst part about racism against Asians is the fact that when we do speak up, it’s often met with “what about the other people of color who have it so much worse than you?” It’s just another dismissal. I hope you’re starting to see the pattern here. We are rarely validated and our struggles are always undermined. Just because we aren’t a target for violence doesn’t mean we don’t exist. Not being seen and being neglected can be just as bad because our souls are dying. We don’t feel good enough to be a part of this society even though we’ve given our country everything. We are also discouraged from speaking out about these issues from our own race because confrontation isn’t a part of Asian values. Even if it means sacrificing ourselves, we are to maintain harmony with those around us, and that is a big reason why I think it’s taken us so long to finally rise up and speak up. To my Asian brothers and sisters, you are important and you are seen. Your struggles are just as valid and no one should have to go through the neglect that we go through and see in this society today. You are strong and you can speak up and speak out about any discrimination that happens against you. Society changes when we take action. We can stand together. To anyone else reading this, please be kind. We are all human regardless of upbringing and skin color. We all feel the same emotions and we just want to feel safe. I know it can seem like we really have to watch what we say nowadays but it’s true. If we know our words and our jokes are hurting our fellow human beings, why would we continue to say them? Point out any injustices you see and stand by your fellow people. We are all the same. Spread love and kindness, it’s what the world needs the most now.

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