Chino Cochino

March 16, 2011
Have you ever stopped to think how prejudice hurts immigrants deeply? I have experienced prejudice in my life. However, I discovered that my uncle has had a harder time with Asian bias, which has impacted his life. Even though it was his first contact with inequality, it has been around us longer than he knew. Despite everything he has been through, he said, “Obviously, we cannot condone the behavior of prejudice from people. However, now that I reflect back, their actions came from their lack of knowledge and ignorance.” As a 10-year old, he had a hard time, moving to the U.S. made him face the inevitable discrimination of being Asian.

My uncle is a fair judgmental person. He was born with prejudice being around his society, and life since the age of 10. When he first moved to the U.S. he felt that it was a drastic change. Going to school here was hard on him since kids here would continue to push him down. They would say mean things like “chino cochino,” which he later found out meant “dirty Chinese.” Although he’s Korean, the kids would follow through with calling all Asians Chinese. Other thoughts that kids had about Asians were that they all knew karate, so they would always ask the Asian kids to teach them.

“There were many types of stereotypes at the time on an Asian ethnicity,” said my uncle over the phone. Then he continued, “Now I understand the kids who have acted with prejudice because it was what they learned and grew up with from their surrounding, be it their parents or friends.” He and his brother were being discriminated, they knew that it was very unfair, but at the time, they had no power nor language skills to protest that. It seemed like they were defenseless. This made him feel like he’s different from everybody.

He was a victim, a witness, and also a participant (unknowingly at the time), depending on the circumstances. When he saw his brother being discriminated from his friends in school, he couldn’t do anything even though he knew that it was wrong. He couldn’t go up to them and say what he wanted to say because nobody else stood up and demanded to stop the inequality. There were only five Asians in his school including himself and his brother. Language barrier was the hardest part to overcome the stereotypes and prejudice.

Continuous prejudice is normal. My uncle has been through the experience of being pushed down. He has concluded that it’s just the way life is, and people discriminate unknowing how much it hurts. He supposes the voices he’s heard had come from their lack of courtesy. Even I understand the pain he has been through just because I was an immigrant to the state. It is how society has become and it simply can’t end.

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