By Chloe Choi
The Summer Youth Leadership Program focuses on educating, empathizing, and empowering the youth of today. One of our main focuses was on the discrimination against minorities, primarily the Asian population.
Our group discussed different forms of discrimination that Asian Americans face and ways to respond to these. As we sat through many talks by speakers, such as [University of Washington Professor] Connie So, I remembered the one and only experience of having an ethnic slur used to describe me.
In my middle school days, I was sitting on a bus, and one other Asian, a boy that I knew and talked to often, turned to me and said, “You have really chinky eyes.”
Back then, I barely knew what the word meant, but I
did know it was a bad word used against Asians. The first thought that appeared in my mind was, if I do, then so do you.
I vaguely remember giving the kid a funny look and just ignoring the comment as I felt a mature person should do, but as I recalled the incident and the circumstances around it, I realized that discrimination goes beyond the way we look.
This was no white person or another minority using this ethnic slur. This was an Asian, my “own kind.” Some minorities may feel that using slurs within the group is okay, but this was no joke to me. This was dead serious.
Discrimination happens to people of any race and, sometimes, it is not even another race discriminating. It can even be your own.
Maybe, educating people about others in certain circumstances and not just organizing problems by race is as important as learning about racial discrimination. I realized after that moment of thought, that even if the skin color of every person was the same, people would still find ways to point out that “there is you and there is me.” ♦
Editor’s note: The ideas here do not necessarily represent Northwest Asian Weekly’s stance.