A Synonym for “Less American”

Let me tell you a few things.

I’m 40% Korean, 40% Japanese, and 20% American. This does not mean I’m a descendent of Jeremy Lin nor I speak Mandarin.

My mom has a last name Kim and first name Miyuki. This does not mean she is a chinc or a tiger mom.

My grandmother is Japanese American, and she has a strong accent. This does not mean she is not American enough nor she should feel the shame of being Asian.

For decades, the word ‘Asian’ has been a term that homogenizes 17 million Asian Americans; (pause) a term that justifies the rest of the country to force us to fit into the stereotypes and to hind behind our heritage; A SYNONYM FOR ‘LESS-AMERICAN,’ ‘SHAMEFUL,’ ‘EXOTIC,’ AND MANY MORE; a term that makes you assume that your Chinese classmate is an awkward math genius or a musical virtuoso.

But I believe the word ‘Asian’ should mean nothing more than my ethnicity.

I refuse to conceal that every time you confuse me with some other nationality that I might share similarities with, you turn me into a racist joke and strip away my individuality.

I refuse to appreciate J.K. Rowling for making her only Asian character Cho Chang an overachieving nerd, and to remain silent to the media that portrays Asian women as hypersexual, exoteric objects.

I REFUSE TO LIVE IN A SOCIETY THAT LABELS ME AS MINORITY, BUT TREATS ME LIKE A FOREIGNER; a society that protects me as a secondary role, but never as a leader; a society in which my ethnicity is regarded as a long list of derogatory terms engraved as an enduring tattoo on my back; a society that forces me to suppress my heritage in a culture that appropriates it, fetishizes it, and marginalizes it.

And I ask you, to see beyond the word, and learn who I really am.

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