It’s super weird how I repress a lot of memories where I’m targeted by blatant racism. I feel pretty meh and numb to it at this point where an eye roll is the most you’ll get out of me as a reaction.
Let’s start with the more mild, everyday things: I’ve had close friends take pictures with me, look at it, and want to re-take it because their eyes look Asian; I’ve constantly had people ask me if it’s really true that Asians eat dogs; Other times I’ve had my hard work and good scores in school dismissed because it’s somehow natural to my ethnicity. And yet Becky from home room got a new car because of her straight Bs in remedial classes because her parents paid for a tutor. Nothing against Becky either—she would share her snacks with me, so she a homie; people ask if I’m from the “good or bad” Korea not understanding how traumatic it is for North Korean refugees to even talk about escaping that country, especially in a casual conversation. By the way, my family is from Seoul and if you don’t know where that is then you’re not allowed to ask me “which Korea”.
The funniest one is when dumbasses ask me to say their name in Korean. Your name does not change because it’s your fucking name. You’re still Becky and you still my homie.
The more aggressive racism is when I used to get prank calls in middle school by peers. They’d call me constantly—sometimes disrupting dinner or sleep. And when I’d answer it was always some kid going “Herro? I’d like to order the Chinese food. Where is my fucking order, you chink?” I honestly would go along with it if I was bored enough because as soon as they realized I wasn’t all bothered or outwardly raged, they get frustrated and bored. Also in middle school, I once had a random high school kid scream at me that Asians need to go to Hell because they can’t drive and will kill people on the road. I grew up in California, too, and went to school with plenty of Asian kids so that seemed peculiar.
All the while I’m growing up in an environment where both sides of my culture were saying I was a misfit almost? Korean is my first language but I’ve lost a lot of it. I still have a slight accent and my friend used to make fun of the fact I can’t pronounce “th” and instead say it as a “d”. I’m pretty self-conscious of that when I have to read stuff out loud in front of people which only makes me sound weirder. So now my parents and grandparents really resent me for not being able to communicate with them and not embracing the culture they grew up with, while I get reminded frequently by strangers that I’m a natural outsider—I am more Asian than I am American even though I feel like I’m full American trash through and through.
Now I work in entertainment. A lot of people have told me I should move to Korea and pursue projects there because I’d get more work. I highly doubt it since I’m extremely uneducated in that culture. It’s also a little bit harder because it’s comedy. You don’t see Asian comedians on SNL, hosting late night, being interviewed because they’re the star of anything. Literally a handful of names being the exception. And if they are in the spotlight, they’re almost always expected to address right away their Asian background as part of their comedy or content.
I’ve been in meetings and writers rooms where I’m either the only girl or the only non-white or both. And I get talked over constantly. I’ve had multiple moments where I throw in a joke, nobody hears me except the person next to me, and they repeat it back louder to laughs. Then I have to be annoying and petty going “Hey! I said that first!” I’ll address a room and people are on their phones not thinking I’m speaking to them. I don’t know if this more so has to with the fact that I’m a young female or what.
And with all of this in mind, I just kind of go “meh. whatever” and keep living. One time I told these stories to my ex-boyfriend and a close friend who were baffled. They couldn’t relate and were so outraged on my behalf. That was the weirdest part maybe to see how unaware others are to the experience of those in different circumstances.
I wonder how Becky is…also I have never met a Becky in my life. The name simply makes me laugh. In a positive way, not in a mean way. This late night stream of consciousness is also way longer than I thought it would be. I’m on my iPad so I can’t put that “read more” thing, so reward for reading this whole thing if you did: bubble butts. 🍑