Soon I found myself, with this second chance, once again trying to be accepted by people who looked like my parents, telling myself I didn’t want to be Asian if this was what being Asian meant, being birds of a different feather, expected to be an automatic friend because of race. Yet somewhere inside of me, I must have felt that I was growing further from myself. I will always be grateful to Don Lee’s story collection, .
RSVP to join weekly calls on Conscious Intersectionality College can be a chance to remake oneself, or to get closer to the foundation of oneself that one gradually moves away from under the influence of peers.
I had, in fact, as soon as I got to UNC, attempted to join the Asian American club, but I couldn’t get over how cliquish they seemed, embracing their strangeness, while the truth is that I was trying to get away from those differences. I hadn’t read much Asian American literature at that time—I think almost all I could add to the class discussion was Michael Ondaatje—and a couple of books planted seeds in me then that would grow into a certain self-awareness later in life.
Some of the women on the video were Asian American.♦◊♦As I said, I was treating the AA literature course as an experiment.
There were a few white students in class who laughed at the “Gay or Asian?
I remember, when I was taking the Asian American literature course, an article in a major magazine that ran pictures of (male) Asian models above the tagline, “Gay or Asian?
” I remember a video that went viral last year in which people explained why men prefer Asian women and why women dislike Asian men.The test, you see, was secretly how Asian I was, or maybe whether I was Asian at all.It was something to do with discovering myself, and how much that self was formed by my birth, which I knew nothing about, and by my birth mother, who had abandoned me, and by the country that had raised me while leaving scars of unknown origin on various parts of my body.I remember watching, in one middle school class, a video meant to teach us that blackface and sculptures of big-lipped black people and stereotypes of watermelon and fried chicken were wrong.Later that same year, one of my best friends drew a picture of a square with a nose poking off of one side. Sometimes my friends would ask me to do the trick where I put my face against the table, touching both my forehead and my chin to the wood.I was constantly tugging on it, thinking that I could stretch it out and thereby gain acceptance. This is going to be a difficult essay to write, and I want to prepare myself—and you, reader—by coming at this topic from a larger angle.