I've struggled for what seems like a lifetime on deciding on how to identify myself and how society set forth a certain criteria for me to fit. But thinking back on it, I can remember my first encounters with race and the problems carried by it like it was yesterday...
- Speaking Tagalog in my Kindergarten class got me sent to the Principals office along with a phone call to my parents (took away my native tongue)
- Being raised in a predominantly Spanish and black neighborhood I got teased for being Asian. So I put my best efforts into pretending I was Peruvian and denied every part of my heritage until high school. (stripped me of my pride)
- In High School I had trouble making friends anywhere outside of the classroom, I assume my classmates believed in stereotypes since everyone wanted to sit next to me in math classes (Unlucky for them it was my worst subject). And when driver's ed came around my sophomore year, the jokes were endless (apparently Asians have bad driving skills embedded in their genes). (lasting encounters where people have made assumptions of me because of my race)
But coming to college has not fixed these problems, only helped me realize that they existed. And in any case, awareness is the first step (i'm still trying to figure out the next couple of steps). I've majored in sociology in hopes to understand not only society and those around me but also to gain deeper enlightenment on myself. But I've fallen into what I like to call a "suicidal-major" because all of my family friends (who are Filipino) consider me to be a failure. In my culture, nursing or engineering is the way to be successful, stray from that and you will be looked down on. Luckily enough I have two parents who understand the hardships of being a minority and have backed me up in taking part in this seemingly forever endeavor to figure out who I am.
I find myself in the middle of a world where all people see is black or white and I not completely fitting in anywhere so I sit myself in the grey section. For example, I asked my friends (Filipino-Americans) if they wanted to go protesting with me in NYC over the recent death of Eric Garner. Their responses were not only indifferent but even slightly depressing. They said, "what does that have to do with us", I was so shocked that I wasn't sure how to respond. But then I tried to think about it from their POV, they aren't sociology majors, this isn't what they are debating in classrooms or critically analyzing for homework.
Personally, I think Asian-Americans are minorities held in high regard and even given "privilege" to some extent. We are given higher status in the world of "minorities" and I have several experiences that agree with me. I guess I bring this up because my culture is lost in a "race-mess" that I want to help clear up and bring a better understanding to people. I am vice-president of the Filipino Club on campus (F.U.N.K) and I hope to learn and set straight these problems so I can pass my knowledge onto my members.
I completely understand, race may have a large role in cases like this but so does your political standing. To clarify, my problem comes with the status that Asian-Americans are placed in. "Model minorities" but still minorities i'm lost in the cross-fire. And although it does not cover the full extent to my reasoning, to answer the aforementioned question of why I wanted to protest is because I stand against any injustice or prejudice that is committed especially involving race.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
- MARTIN NIEMÖLLER