When we call America a “giant melting pot”, we need to be respectful of all the cultures that it is composed of. Sadly, even though we make up an important part of American culture, Asian Americans commonly face racist remarks and actions from our communities and those around us. Growing up as a young Asian American girl, I could not count how many times I’ve been told to “open my eyes” or “go back to China”. Although these remarks are extremely harmful and are not okay to say, there are other ways in which I have faced racism, ways that not everyone believes to be harmful. Hearing guys say offhandedly in conversations that they “prefer not to date Asians”. Watching Chinese culture appropriated in the media time and time again. Scrolling through my Instagram feed just to see post after post of non-Asians using the “fox eye pose”, a picture-taking position that emphasizes pulling back the eyes and brows, when my Asian friends and I have been teased our whole lives over the shape of our eyes. Growing up with TV shows that only promoted stereotypes of Asians: that they’re nerdy, school-oriented, and have little importance in the plot other than to advance others’ storylines. Realizing my South and Southeast Asian peers are left out of conversations pertaining to race because American culture has taught us to think of all Asians as only East Asians. It’s important to think about if what you’re saying or doing is harmful to any specific race or culture, even if it’s the smallest remark. Small remarks build up and reinforce harmful stereotypes and prejudices. To dismantle the culture of normalized Asian racism, we need to start having these conversations about microaggressions within our communities and not be scared to call others out on their harmful remarks.
By Cheryl, 16, Co-Founder of Gen Z: WWTL Texas Chapter