Change – Growing Up Asian

Carl - San Jose, California
Entered on March 6, 2009
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: prejudice
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I believe that if there was one thing in this world that needed to be fixed, it would be racism. The horrendous racial discrimination I have encountered in my short life has infuriated me to act against it even though, ironically, this racism was not directed at me. Let me explain:

When I was fourteen years old, I returned to China for, as my father put it, “a cultural experience”; the idea was that I would be integrated into the Chinese culture, learn about my heritage, and hopefully pick up some experiences I couldn’t have had otherwise if I stayed in America.

In China, there were plenty of shows dedicated to game events, sports and dramas, but as the days flew by during my initial week in China, I started to notice a disturbing trend in the shows that were aired. The most plentiful type of show by far was Chinese dramas revolving around the acts were caused by the Japanese during World War II. In all of these “reenactments”, the Japanese killed, maimed, or raped Chinese civilians. In contrast, the heroes of these shows were always patriotic and brave Chinese soldiers who courageously resisted these atrocities.

Needless to say, the overwhelmingly narrow views entrenched in these shows horrified me. While the Japanese did commit horrendous war crimes during the Second World War, stereotyping Japan as a brutal savage nation would hardly help the relationship between China and Japan.

I decided to find out why Chinese television discriminated against the Japanese in such a way by asking my uncle when he got back from work. His reply shocked me: “Because they deserve it!” He then proceeded to question if there were Japanese students at Lynbrook and whether they were treating the Chinese students unfairly. Such blatantly racist remarks from my uncle, an established doctor with an education from one of the best universities in China, was appalling. I was so stunned that I could not find the words to answer his question.

When I returned to America, I stopped seeing things through colorblind lens and began to view the world with a critical eye and have started to act to promote racial integration on a personal level. I am a debate captain at my high school where the vast majority of students are Asian. After experiencing the life-changing event in China, I know how isolation can negatively affect people so I often attempt to integrate the non-Asian students into our debate team by encouraging team bonding sessions. I frequently take the team out for pizza in hopes of strengthening connections between team members and allowing the interaction between debaters of differing ethnicity.

By breaking down social barriers between those who are different, I hope to fight against intolerance like that I encountered in China for ultimately, the racism in the world comes at terrible costs. That is why if I could change one and only one thing in this world, it would be to rid it of racism.