The Only One This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

By
   The Only One

by S. C., Wallingford, CT

Since grammar school I have been the only Oriental student in my class. I have been teased with "chink" and "sushi," and any other names little kids can think of. Though the name-calling was not a daily custom, it did have a serious effect on me. I would enthusiastically remind my aggressor that "I'm Italian, too!!!" Of course children can always find something to tease another child about, so if it was not my nationality it would have been something else. Throughout my life I have wished that I were 100% Italian, and I never let my mother, who is Chinese, forget that. I would not merely drop hints that I wanted to disregard my Chinese heritage; I was not that subtle. I would tell my mother outright that I wanted to be Italian. She never had much of a response to that statement, though I said it often. She would just look at me as if to say, "Someday you'll learn that you don't really mean that."

I think I have reached that "someday." Until now I had never appreciated my mother's wisdom. So if I happened to come upon a magic lamp, and I rubbed it, and a genie told me he would grant me three wishes, I know that changing my nationality would not be one of them. I guess that it is all a part of growing up and accepting myself for who I am, but it was not until I read The Joy Luck Club, by Amy Tan, that I realized being Oriental is not a curse - it is something to be proud of. Ms. Tan has accomplished something that I never thought could be done: she, more than any history book, or professor, or even my own mother, has helped me to understand and accept my heritage.

Amy Tan creates an awareness among all Americans that our society is not just black and white. She has done something that few have tried to accomplish; she has given Asians some of the recognition that is well-deserved. In a time when being "politically correct" is the latest trend, why are there so few Asians shown in the media? African-Americans have fought long and hard because they feel they have been unjustly wronged in the past and want to make up for lost time. There is a slogan "Black is beautiful." What about "Asian is beautiful," or "Indian is beautiful," "people are beautiful"? People who judge others only on the basis of exterior characteristics have such shallow minds. They continue to think the way I did when I was younger. Perhaps my acceptance and pride in my mixed background will help to make a difference, not only in my life, but in the lives of others as well.


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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sallysunshine said...
Jan. 10, 2011 at 6:26 pm
VERY Informative and inspirring
 
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