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Embracing Ethnicity

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The you-pick-two special. Looking up at the Panera menu, it looks like I can pick any type of soup and sandwich for a set price. Even if they are smaller, I'd still prefer to take the deal and have two items instead of one. Smaller portions doesn't necessarily mean that I'm getting less than if I were to get a whole one by itself, but do two halves always add up to one whole?

I am reminded of this every day. Having a Japanese father and an American mother comes with some definite trade-offs. I get the good stereotypes and the bad, and the ability to fit in, as well as the ability to be the odd one out. At school I am expected to be smart, therefore when I receive anything lower than an A on an assignment, a spectacle ensues. I can talk to cliques from either ethnicity, but I can't fit into one. And there is always the student who finds himself the cleverest when he discovers that the two races that make up my ethnicity bombed each other at Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima. Living with the benefit and burden of being half Asian is something I will never trade and never forget.

The stereotype of an Asian parent is one that seems to hinder me. I have only one parent who is Asian, therefore, to other Asians, I am not pressured to get good grades and study all the time. Although this is somewhat true, in many aspects it is also very wrong. I am more motivated by myself to get good grades than that of a parent. They look out for me and make sure that I am doing what I need to and putting in all the effort, but when it comes down to it, I know that, in the end, not doing my own work will only hinder myself.

I am considered impure because my blood is mixed as well. Although this sounds like a clich', people really do feel like I can't call myself Asian or White, depending on the person talking; as if tainted by one race or the other. If I am associated with a good stereotype, I don't 'get the full benefit' because I'm not fully of that race. Although, if associated with a bad stereotype, immediately I am at fault. Because of cases like these, I have devoted a portion of my life to work my way around these stereotypes. My hard work to get good grades gets overshadowed by the stereotype that I am smart because of my heritage. Constantly I wonder why two different halves are often viewed to be less than a whole.

Returning back to reality and to my seat, I slowly dip the baguette into the soup it came with. I prefer not to eat the baguette plain because of its lack of flavor, so I dip it in the soup. And I prefer not to throw it away because of my father's emphasis on not wasting food, so one piece at a time, I coat the end of the baguette with some soup and take a bite. The soup being my favorite part, I long to eat it plain and not have the taste of bread alter it in any way. Instead I continued to dip the baguette into the soup until the baguette has finally been eaten and the soup has only a few spoonfuls left. I wait through the whole baguette to get to the end where I can at last enjoy the slightly warm soup by itself. Finally ready to use the actual spoon to eat the soup, I pause. 'I'm full,' I whisper as I pass the bowl across the table. After equalizing the taste of the two foods for so long, it feels almost like a sin to eat the soup alone; as if one is not complete without the other.





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patkers said...
Apr. 8, 2009 at 12:20 am
Joshua,
Simply fantastic! You were a tremendous writer in 8th grade gifted and it's obvious your gift of insightfulness has become even greater. This essay should be published and used in multicultural journals and discussions. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and appreciate you sending it to me.
Mr. Bowes
 
MrsKassner said...
Apr. 1, 2009 at 5:13 pm
Josh, this was an absolutely amazing piece of work! Your motivation and reflective nature are going to help you have a very successful future! Mrs. Kassner
 
Hectopolis_Conquered said...
Apr. 1, 2009 at 12:13 pm
josh f.,
that was amazing. Other than the fact that now i feel bad for making fun of you everyday of my life, i am impressed that you would be willing to share such deep feelings and yet its easy to follow and understand. amazing job.
 
MrsKinross said...
Apr. 1, 2009 at 11:47 am
Joshua, as a former teacher of yours, I am so proud! As a reader, I am so engaged by your writing. You're so talented. What a bright future you'll have. Congrats!

--Mrs. Kinross
 
superwriter said...
Apr. 1, 2009 at 2:16 am
What an awesome story! I love your extended comparison between your heritage and your food, it makes the story a lot more relateable. Good luck with your future writing!
 
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