Wait, You’re American?


Image from phbond.pbworks.com

Image from phbond.pbworks.com

I’ve gotten used to it by now, but when I was younger, I didn’t understand why all these people were asking me such silly questions. “Are you from Korea?”, “North or South?”, “Were you born here?”, “Really, I didn’t know that!”

From teachers, parents, friends, and even their cousins, they never seemed to run out such questions for me to answer. At first, I loved the attention and how I stood out from everyone else in my class. Now that I’m in high school and have a better understanding of society, my perspective on this in entirely different. I don’t know when the light-bulb turned on exactly, but I’m just glad that it did. Those “silly questions” were not intended to get to know me better, even though that’s what they claim they are doing. They’re intended to understand why I, a teenage Asian girl, am doing in America.  This is the 21st century. Of course America is going to be filled to the brim with different ethnicity and cultures. Is it really that hard to understand?

I wouldn’t go as far to call it oppression. In fact, it wouldn’t even be considered bullying. However, the consistency of the way that “white people” are always in awe by different cultures sheds light on the fact that the melting pot of America is dead. Yes, there are still a mix of a variety of cultures in this country, but what’s the point if they are not accepted and welcomed. The only way to “blend in” is to be white. In other words, you have be as American as possible. That means wearing nothing but Converse, buying Starbucks every other day, gossiping about how Brittany and Chad broke up… You get my point.

When I first realized this, I was horrified. I have to give up the Korean side of my life, right? Wrong! Absolutely wrong!

Do not compromise yourself for the sake of someone else’s culture. Keep that special aspect of your life because not many people have it.  You’re of Chinese descent living in America? Hooray! You moved from India a couple years ago and are living in California now? Hooray! Your mom is from Ohio but your dad is from Africa? Hooray!

That’s the definition of diversity. Not eating tacos on a Saturday night with your family. Not learning to speak German so you can go backpacking in Munich someday. But accepting and encouraging other cultures that exist in this country is. Support your friends that practice a different culture than you. Listen to them when they try to explain why their culture is like that and why they like it so much. And please, don’t ask if they’re American or not because that’s the same thing as asking why they’re invading our country.

So the next time you ask “Are you American?” I will look at you right in they eye and say

“Yes, but I’m also Korean. I don’t associate with just one culture.”

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