nw asian weekly

Harrison Lo on being Asian American

By Harrison Lo
SYLP student

Asian Americans were thought to be ninjas, to be seen and yet unseen in society. We are seen as the minority group that has it best. We can take the racist remarks and comments as if they are nothing. Why has this become the image of Asians today?

We hardly seem to have a place in the media when talking about racism and diversity. The first thought of diversity is usually a picture of an African American or Latino. The African Americans had Martin Luther King Jr. Latinos had Cesar Chavez.

Yet who do Asians have as a leader for equality?

I came to SYLP thinking that Asian Americans aren’t anything significant because of the small amount of news in the media. Why do parents want us to do well in school, to get a good job that they choose for us? Why does it seem like freedom is never a choice in our lives as Asian Americans?

We live in a nation founded on freedom, and yet, it is so rare for us Asians.

My illusion was shattered by Connie So, who is a professor at the University of Washington. She teaches Asian American studies and talked with us about the stereotypes of the “typical” Asian American, the kind that Hollywood portrays.

We are the kung fu masters, the guys with really cool samurai swords — but no one mentions the fact that we don’t get the girl and that we don’t speak English.

Connie revealed the facts of how we are portrayed in the media. Asian women are called lotus blossoms, erotic, yet submissive. Do all girls these days just obey men and look incredibly beautiful? To think that the media is spreading false facts about human beings is just frightening.

When listening to Connie So speak, I was shocked to see how old racist stereotypes are still intact today after the Civil Rights Movement. Have we not been in America long enough to be rightfully recognized?

What truly defines what an Asian American truly is is the organization Kollaboration, which helps Asian Americans performers pursue their dreams. They’ve shown us that you don’t have to become a doctor, lawyer, or even an engineer. There may be times when your parents may not understand you, but by becoming free, we can break the stereotypes and change the culture around us.

We deserve a chance to follow our passions, such as music and politics. We don’t have an Asian president because of the sad fact that, rather than pursue one’s passion, Asian parents want their children to have the most stable jobs. Money is almost never worth it to be miserable every day.

I walk out of the Summer Youth Leadership Program as an Asian American. I choose to be myself and no one else, but also to be free. What do you choose? ♦

Editor’s note: The ideas here do not necessarily represent Northwest Asian Weekly’s stance.