This I Believe

Annie - Norman, Oklahoma
Entered on December 28, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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Diversity, Not Discrimination

As an Asian-American, I get the best of both worlds. Although I feel like the minority practically where ever I go, I get the advantages of both Chinese and American cultures. As a Chinese girl born and raised in the United States, I was brought up with priorities from both ways of life: respect for others, good manners, having a strong sense of self, perseverance, and above all, love for God. My life is living proof that two cultures from opposite ends of the spectrum can benefit when they learn from each other.

Unfortunately, some people just can’t be optimistic. I hear at least one racial slur during a typical day at school. I am treated like an incompetent child during my trips to Asia even though I speak Mandarin fluently. Many Americans, upon seeing my ethnicity, enjoy telling me every Asian joke they’ve ever heard. Still others like to speak gibberish and ask me what they’ve just said in Chinese. There is nothing I haven’t heard.

I remember a specific time when a classmate called me a derogatory name inappropriate to ever be repeated. Dumbfounded, I reached out and slapped him hard across the face. A few brave souls clapped, but I was punished by a teacher who had even heard the word I was called. I remember the anger I felt that day, and now I know that that anger was useless. There’s nothing anyone can do about discrimination except make their own decision to accept others.

Someone asked me once if I am ever confused about who I am, because of the blend of cultures I grew up with. It is the complete opposite. I am absolutely sure of my roots, my beliefs, who I am and who I want to be. My differences don’t define me; I define my differences.

Until racism, sexism, and all other discriminations are put to rest, mankind cannot advance in any way. Wars will be fought, countries will remain rivals, people will continue to sue each other, and different people will never feel at home.

The reaction to diversity should not be discrimination; it should be acceptance. I believe nothing in the world can be solved until everyone embraces diversity.