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You Better Listen This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Asian - it's a label, a stereotype. “God, what an Asian.” “Aren't Asians supposed to be smart? What happened to you?” I can't stop it, and even if I tried, everybody would just say, as they always have, “It's not you, it's just other Asians. Calm down.” Does that mean that just because these stereotypes aren't directed at me, they don't hurt or make me feel like I'm somehow worse than others?

I have always strived for the A+. When I know I could have done better than I did, I'm disappointed. And because I'm Asian, everybody always says, “Why do you have to care so much? You're so Asian.” Just because I care, does that mean I am a grade-obsessed perfectionist? No, yet everybody still judges, everybody always tells me it's not something I should be upset over.

The stereotype is that Asians are supposed to be geniuses and we're good at everything. Everyone believes it is true, even when it's not. I've been hurt by this stereotype countless times, but people never seem to notice my reaction to their careless words, or the distress they cause.

“It's because she's Asian that she's so smart,” classmates laugh. When I tell them it isn't something to joke about and that my grades are the result of hard work, they apologize but then do it all over again. It is like my words don't even penetrate their minds.

Another incident happened during science. One girl asked another, “Why are you so good at everything?” The girl's friend burst out like it was the most obvious thing in the world, saying, “Because she's Asian!” Then she laughed. I stared, listening to those words. She acted like it was all a big joke, not thinking about what had just come out of her mouth. I was sitting right there, and to hear someone just group you with all Asians to form one big stereotype was astounding.

Stereotyping is something that people do every day that they don't even realize. They immediately assume that what they think is right. People who are hurt and angry try to stop it, but all they hear in response is, “Don't care so much. It's not you, only the others.” I act like it's nothing, but I always wonder, Why do they not realize that the “others” is me, too?

Why can't they see that it hurts?

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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