It is strange to compare my childhood to the younger generation who is growing through the midst of a war of discrimination and injustice. Growing up, I viewed the world as though I was colorblind; I saw no difference in the skin color of people in my community. It was never a big deal as everyone got along in front of my eyes.
However, when middle school came around, I discovered something shocking. I could be a victim of racial discrimination.
The first of my experiences triggered in the hallway of the Union 6th and 7th grade center where I was asked by a fellow student to switch seats with him. Obeying the classroom rules, I sat still and silent due to my inability to speak up for myself. Before I could find courage to speak up, Asian slurs of attempted mocks and accents flooded my ears like a megaphone of unrecognized sounds.
Aware of the imitation, I quickly grabbed my backpack and left that seat. As I left, crowds of laughter diffused through the hallway. Fast-forwarding to high school, the majority of the Asian students and I became numb to the many attempts to poke fun at who we are and where we originated from.
To me, it was a mutual situation; I was not fazed by their words and they weren’t getting the attention they needed. Ultimately, the Asian community learned to cope with the discrimination.
It certainly is melancholy that discrimination against Asians have become normalized in American society, but I think this is an opportunity to grow and better our communities. This experience is nothing compared to the many other instances that have been evident in recent newscasts and on social media rooting since the introduction of the COVID-19 virus.
These recent events in our country are absolutely unacceptable. This country continues to be a beacon of freedom and liberties to countries who do not have the same rights that we hold in our hearts; yet we are still blinded by the essence of the word “race” and treating others with disrespect who we do not look like or associate with.
It was especially disheartening to hear about the deaths of not only middle-aged Asian individuals, but also the Asian elders. Knowing that my family members are prone to hate crimes is unsettling and fearful, especially being away from them. As one of the executive members of the Asian American Student Association at Oklahoma State University, we can start bringing awareness starting at the local level by holding and attending events to shed light on the global rise in Asian hate crimes.
As an Asian American, I can only respond to the discrimination that I have personally experienced. That being said, we all need to stand up for one another as a more impactful force to raise awareness for the discrimination facing the population as a whole.