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Rice or Poutine?
Rice or Poutine? The question, though quite simple, posed several problems. Problems I was to answer in a short amount of time; the time it took me to get to the front of the cafeteria line.
To one who lived anywhere but here they would probably eat the dish they liked; the more appealing dish. But these two particular dishes at this particular school only reminded you of your social status and your position among your classmates. The food was not appealing; anything that taunts you never is. The food only enlightened the racism going on at our school.
The line inched forward and I was stuck. I contemplated how the rice and poutine was called food. The word food was a light coat to the immense meaning behind the two dishes. It was really a package deal- lunch and judgement all rolled into $3.00.
When you first enter my school, position is everything. By position I mean social status and where you place amongst your fellow school mates. Your position decides your friends for you and who is cool and who isn't. Your position is decided by 3 factors: your personality, looks, and race. Personality is important because who wanted to hang out with a dry loser? Well I had the right personality. Looks are also important; ugly is out and pretty is in. Well lets just say I was decent looking. And race was no exception, if you didn't have the right skin you could only get so far. That's where I fell short of the glory; short of the ultimate social status.
Asians were at the top. Whoever decided that I do not know but it has always been that way. They were the beauty queens, the honour students, and the funny ones. They were the only ones with a shot at the top plus they got a head start in front of everybody else who's skin was wrong.
I was nearly there and I still hadn't decided what I wanted. Poutine? What a loser choice that would be. Only white people chose that. Rice? Naw, I'd look like a wanna be.
Our school could be compared to a mall. We were all shoppers but all products as well. You'd enter school and look hungrily around for the best people to befriend, the ones who were worth your time the same way you'd look for the name brand stores in a mall. At the same time you'd put out your best looks; trying to be an appealing friend so others would stop by and consider the benefits of having you as a friend. You'd find out what was in for huge demand (which happened to be a funny personality and Asian skin) and you'd advertise that you had that. You don't want to look needy. For example, if your dad is Asian you'd let people know that but if your grandpa is Asian you would keep that quiet or you'd look desperate. Being Asian made you part of the Dolce and Gabbana or Gucci stores. While being white made you an Old Navy or Wal-Mart product. If you had a good personality or sick sense of humour you could upgrade your Old Navy status but the odds aren't likely. Race has everything to do with social status and if you were white, well, tough luck.
It was all unfair really. How something out of one's control could cause so much pain or grant so much joy. Why should skin be the deciding factor for your friends? I couldn't change the judgement at our school. How the whites detested the Asians and how the Asians commented racistly on the whites. It would always be this way. But why, why couldn't we just order what we liked and not be judged? Why did food have to be such a big deal? Why did skin have to be such a big deal?
I was at the front now and it was time to order; time to buy my judgement deal. I could almost envision myself saying Hi! I'll have some poutine, a handful of Asians mocking me, and be reduced to loser status. There, I would never make it to the big time anyways. My skin was to light to qualify for the ultimate social status.
"I'll have.." I began, dreading the looks I'd get from ordering poutine.
"Hey, you wanna come sit with us," Sarah, a beautiful Asian asked as she leaned against the wall studying me. She, with her stunning looks, had already made it to the top.
For 2 seconds I gaped at her. Sarah, the most beautiful most amazing girl in our school, was talking to me. I couldn't ruin this, not now when I was being offered the chance of a lifetime. I gathered myself into a collected and cool state of mind.
"Sure," I shoved my answer out, forcing the words to sound casual and as if I had been expecting this. I couldn't beeelievee this was happening to me.
"Great," Sarah exclaimed, sounding genuinely pleased. "Oh, is it true you are half Asian?" Only pretending make casual conversation, Sarah was really just interested in my skin.
Well, there goes our friendship I thought. We couldn't be friends if she actually cared about my skin and my claim to Asian pride. But having Sarah by my side would make life at junior high a thousand times easier because I'd be at the top; at the ultimate social status. I smiled confidently at my "friend" and turned to the waiter-
"I'll have rice."