Colorblind | Teen Ink


January 3, 2017
By SCSKATE SILVER, Austin, Texas
9 articles 5 photos 23 comments

I used to think everyone was the same. My parents shared the same struggles as other Americans, so why was I different. They often had to work longer hours than their 9-5 job asked. And five year old me? I appreciated hamburgers and fishing as much as the next guy. But I was never an American. I was an ABC, an American Born Chinese. Growing up, I lived surrounded by the idea that my good grades could be attributed to being Asian. It infuriated me: the idea that my hard work could be discredited so blatantly. And after years of thinking, I decided to strike while the iron was hot. This is my comeback.

I believed some crazy ideas as a child. I never indulged fictitious conceptions of Santa Claus or the loaded tooth fairy, but rather, I prided myself in knowing more applicable concepts. Despite what Copernicus theorized, I knew incontrovertibly the world revolved around me. I understood that if I worked -- or rather implored--my parents hard enough, I could get anything. And lastly, god forbid, I presumed that the world was colorblind.
When I was in kindergarten, I encountered my first wizard. He knew everything and was five years old like me. One day, he approached me, and asked if I was Asian. Me:  “How did you know?” I don’t know if he had an answer. I didn’t have one either. Back then, I was naive to race.

Eventually I figured out I was disparate. I started to loathe my Chinese culture. My classmates would say that my food tasted like sunscreen and smelled weird, and I suddenly wanted nothing more than those $1 lunchables everyday. My situation improved in middle school. Amy and I were not longer the only Chinese kids in our grade, and people were more open minded. It was the first time that I had gotten comfortable enough to speak Chinese at school.

Despite stereotypes, good grades are far from hereditary. And at my school, we all enjoy fairly sufficient socioeconomic backgrounds, so I assure you it is not that either. But if you must insist, then I will tell you now that my parents were both dirt poor growing up. And the conclusion I have been building up to is that being Asian is not just an inherently built-in trait, but rather a lifestyle. A lifestyle of studying for every test, taking extra classes outside of school, and having mostly school related extra-curriculars. A lifestyle where as you grow up, you are expected to be successful, get good grades, and put academics first. And in many ways, I am self-motivated, similarly to everyone else, to the capaciousness that I genuinely request my parents micromanaged my schoolwork more, forced school to be my number one priority, and hassled me. And that’s the difference between you and I, if there even is one at all. My one goal is a good end result. That is all that matters. And that is what makes me Asian.

The author's comments:

When writing this, I just wanted to voice my opinion to others about what race meant to me, and to combat stereotypes. 

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