This I Believe

Ali - Mansfield, Texas
Entered on October 12, 2007
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: race, respect

I believe in thick eyeliner: The kind that covers up your entire bottom eyelid, and fits perfectly under the bottom eyelashes. I believe in the kind that allows you to cover up flaws, and allows you to feel more comfortable with yourself. I believe that my eyeliner defines who I am. I was adopted from Seoul, South Korea when I was only six months old. My parents were Caucasian, and so were 95% of the town I grew up in. When I was little, people would ask my parents if I could speak Chinese. My mom would find it humorous because no six month old would know how to speak a foreign language yet. I was stripped of my “Asian identity” and quickly transformed into a Caucasian. I went to school with mostly whites, a few African-Americans, and Latinos, but never more than two or three Asians. I only had white friends growing up. When I would get an A on a math test, they would poke fun at me by telling me how “Asian” I was. I believe I am a good student, not because of my race, but because I work hard. People would make jokes about how I liked to eat rice, but knew nothing about where it came from. I didn’t like being known as just another “white girl,” because I’m not. I am Korean and an Asian American. Sometimes, I would ask my parents if I could take a Korean Language class, but they told me that English is the only language I need to know. If I questions about my adoption process or about the Asian culture, they would be offended because I was somehow insulting their way of life. I don’t want to know about where I came from because I am not satisfied with America, but because I believe it is important to know your heritage. Growing up, I felt like I couldn’t relate to either one of my identities. I never befriended the other Asians because I was ashamed. I spoke no other language other than English, and I was not brought up in an Asian environment. Instead, I observed the way the other Asian girls talked, dressed, and wore their makeup. I soon realized that we barely had anything in common. But when I look in the mirror, I see my eyes that are outlined in thick eyeliner. I know that the other Asian girls are wearing eye make up as well. It may seem a bit of a stretch, but I believe that eyeliner allows me to stay true to my heritage. Because when I look across the room and see another Asian girl wearing the same perfect semi-circle of eyeliner right at the upper eyelid and another right below her lower eyelashes I feel like I could belong in the “Asian crowd.” I believe in thick eyeliner because it is the one thing that connects my two worlds.