Author: Jake Kim | Category: Society | Date: 08-01-2020
One of the few struggles of growing up as an Asian American, specifically one that is not of Chinese descent, is the generalization that all Asians are Chinese. As Koreans, there have been a few instances throughout my life when my family and I were perceived as Chinese Americans.
A majority of these instances weren’t necessarily due to ignorance but rather to mistakes. For instance, an elderly Chinese man came up to my parents at our local library, asking for instructions for something. To this, my parents simply replied “No Chinese”, and continued whatever task they were doing at the time. We didn’t negatively interpret the situation, as we understood that the man simply mistook us as a Chinese family who could perhaps lend him help in the thing that he was trying to accomplish. Also, as fellow immigrants, we knew the struggles of having a language barrier. So, we dismissed the awkward encounter and laughed it off.
However, not all instances were wholesome like the one before. During the eighth grade, I was called a chink by a white boy who was mad that he lost a match of basketball. I, a mere bystander, took the bulk of the consequences of his anger in place of the kid who beat him. Here, I had mixed emotions, as my instincts were telling me to insult him back for such an unprecedented action, but I also did not want the situation to escalate to the point where I would get in trouble. After a brief moment, I decided to follow my morals and replied with an insincere “Okay”, as I knew there wasn’t much to lose from the situation. After all, he was the one who had called me a chink out of his frustration about his poor basketball skills. Looking back, there were many other roads that I could have taken to get to get my revenge on the boy, but my choice was ultimately the best, as I had not caused further trouble and everyone knew that the boy was at the wrong.
All in all, my family and I were generalized as Chinese on multiple occasions, but did not take the situations to a personal level. During these situations, it is best to remain levelheaded and take a logical route. By doing so, people can avoid escalating misunderstandings to conflicts and contribute to the greater good in society.