This I Believe

Laura - Phoenixville, Pennsylvania
Entered on August 13, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30

I believe that the most important rule in loving yourself is to understand that only you have the power to control how you feel about yourself. For many years I have allowed others who inflict their negative thoughts about my race impact the way I view myself and even worse, my mother.

I was introduced to the ugliness of the world at a young age when a little boy teased me with a sort of jingle in second grade about having smaller eyes and eating fortune cookies. At the time I guess I was pretty confused because I really hadn’t been exposed to mean words about my race before than. Being half-Chinese I really didn’t even know I was all that different, and it’s kind of funny that an 8-year-boy was the one who caused me such pain, but I will never forget that boy for as long as I live. I remember ever since that incident whenever my mom would show up for holiday concerts or chaperoning, a part of me didn’t want her around. I didn’t want anyone to see that my mom was Chinese, mostly in fear of more teasing. I never said a thing to my mom then, but I realize now that I let this small boy make me turn my back on my mother and myself. This idea became instilled in me for many years down the road.

Through middle school and high school I would hear the occasional racist comment, some even coming from my friends. Of course they were only ignorant and didn’t know that some things they said might offend me, such as joking around about stereotypes that I didn’t even fit, but it still bothered me that others viewed my race in a negative way, even if it was just a joke. I have also heard many non-jokes as well, things said deliberately against my race to my face, and that is what tied my stomach twist and turn. The pain was split between the hurt of such hateful comments but also with the sadness that some people in this world still cannot see beyond race.

My friends have always said throughout my whole life how they wish they could be mixed like me and how lucky I am. And of course I appreciate who I am and how incredible it is to have such diversity in my family, not to mention the amazing variety of food I’ve grown up on, but a part of me always just wanted the luxury of never having to be discriminated against because of my race. It just seemed that life was so much easier for them.

It wasn’t until maybe a few years ago when I came to college that I have become more comfortable with who I am. I openly talk about my race in front of others, something I would rarely do in grade school. I speak up when I hear a racist comment, not necessarily directed toward me but anyone or anything in general. Such things should not be tolerated and if no one speaks out against it, those who are ignorant will never learn.

I realize that there will always be someone out there who will have a problem with me because of the way I look, and it really is a sad thing, but these are things I cannot control. The only thing I can control is myself and the way in which I view and treat myself. Being ashamed of who I am because of my race is just as bad, if not worse, as those people who reject me for it. I’ve found that the only way to be content with who I am is to embrace what I am and know that my mixed background is something I am absolutely blessed with.