Race: an (Adopted) Asian-American's Perspective
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I was adopted from China at 8 months old. Growing up in a predominantly Irish-Catholic town in the United States, I always knew I was different from my classmates, even in elementary school. It wasn't until middle and high school that I actually experienced the negative effects of stereotypes and racism. Kids would make fun of my physical features--mostly my smaller eyes and round face--and they would make me feel ashamed of being Asian. Even worse, I felt discouraged from doing well in school because kids would tell me that I'm only "smart" because I'm Asian. When I got to high school, I thought things would be different. But, even now, many of my teachers assume that I plan to go into a STEM profession because of the high concentration of Asians in these fields. I often feel that I'm seen only as a member of the Asian race and not as an individual with her own talents and passions.
I prefer not to identify as any race, even though I'm ethnically Asian. This is because I've grown up in a white family and I feel that the values instilled in us by our families and environment are just as integral to our identities as our birthplaces. However, I'm still proud of where I'm from, even though I don't identify with Chinese culture. It took me awhile to reach this level of acceptance considering that I spent many years ashamed of my race. Recognizing the beauty in all facets of my identity (not only my American nationality and Chinese birthplace) has helped me along the way. I believe that humans are multifaceted and multifunctional beings. We cannot be solely defined by a label such as race, sexual orientation, or political alignment--we are so much more.