This I Believe

Andrea - Puyallup, Washington
Entered on January 23, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: freedom

My grandparents left their lives in Korea and came to America hoping for a better life, better opportunities – the American Dream. However, although their hard work has ensured my right to the American Dream, I have often found it difficult to avoid prejudice while pursuing the American Dream.

As a child, racism was shoved right into my face. Kids my age would make fun of my eyes and the color of my skin. They would speak in a retarded Asian accent and call me “chink.” I simply ignored their comments because I had no idea what the word “chink” meant; and secondly, I did not know what to say in order to defend myself.

One day, my dad and I went into a Safeway store to buy something to eat. We made our way to the cash register to pay for what we were going to purchase. My day would have been normal if it weren’t for the cashier. Usually, when a customer buys something, the cashier says something like “thank you, have a nice day,” or just a simple “goodbye.” This cashier’s reply, however, was two words, “bye Yellow.”

I had no clue what this meant. My dad did not have a yellow shirt on and neither did I. I asked my dad the meaning of the phrase when we were outside the store. He informed me that it was a term Asians were called because of the color of their skin. I looked down and the color of my skin was peach.

As I grew up and entered high school, racial slurs and comments became more prominent in my life. Almost every day I would hear something racial being shouted out across the halls of my school. A comment that someone had said to me was, “so what’s it like looking at life through widescreen?” I simply laughed because as a child, no one ever told me that it was okay to tell them to stop. I knew it was wrong of them to make racial comments to me. But I was so well-versed in ignoring it that when I finally realized that what they said was offensive to me, it was too late to say anything back for I had already laughed it off or walked away. I simply ignored the wrong that had been committed towards me; and therein lays the problem.

I am an American. It is my right to live freely as an American without being persecuted because of the color of my skin. It is my right to pursue the American Dream without having to stumble along the way because of the biased views of others. However, what I have come to realize throughout my life is that in order to stop being persecuted, I must stop accepting the persecutions. I must stand up and let my voice be heard. I believe that I must fight for the change I want to see.