Breaking the Barriers | Teen Ink

Breaking the Barriers

December 18, 2018
By hnblackbelt BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
hnblackbelt BRONZE, Mundelein, Illinois
4 articles 0 photos 0 comments

This might be an interesting story all by itself. An American girl learns Tae Kwon Do to defend herself from her past bullies. She excels in the sport and quickly moves up the ranks only to be stopped by her gender. If she’d been anything but a white girl, she might have been respected and valued more. She grows into a teenager who talks about her accomplishments in the third person to teach the lesson that American girls shouldn’t be underestimated as if to protect the future generations from the inequalities she experiences everyday.

They did not want to think that a girl could be anything but a fragile doll that needs saving or a storm cloud full of emotions. A strong girl was dangerous because now she can change traditions and compete with the boys. They expected the girls to break down in the face of a scary boy but instead we challenged them. They thought that we couldn’t break the big boy boards yet we did it better than them. They wouldn’t let us hold the boards or teach the adults because we were “better with the kids”. They expected us to be weak and uneducated but they were wrong.

I was brilliant. I was powerful. I was a force to be reckoned with. Even when they told me I could only work with the little kids, I broke their way of thinking and worked with the teenagers and the adults when I was asked and proved to them I was stronger than their preconceptions. I broke the small boards. I broke the big boards. I broke the Grandmaster’s paradigm of who could be an instructor. I broke down the barriers that were in my way. I broke tradition by being one of the only girls to become a 4th degree black belt.  I broke the record of the youngest fourth degree in the Chicagoland area. I had a love for the sport that no one could touch. They couldn’t touch me because I had the brains to do it also. I did as told but also broke the standard for what they thought I was. They were surprised when I finally showed them what I was worth. Through all of this I had one main purpose. I was trying to prove them wrong.

The author's comments:

This piece was inspired by Sherman Alexie's Superman and Me. This piece is about the struggles I found while teaching at my Tae Kwon Do school. It really emphasizes what I feels like to be a girl in a man's world.

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