To the boy who said
“Sorry, but you look really Chinese”:
Hate to break it to you,
but I am Chinese.
And what was that “sorry” for?
Telling me I look like the race I am
isn’t offensive to me.
That’s probably a compliment,
my parents raised me right
and gave me good genetics or something.
I’m not good at science.
To be honest,
I own no traditional Chinese clothes.
Not a single qipao.
And obviously I don’t have long silky hair
that you could braid up
under heavy headdresses.
I don’t even know if those headdresses are heavy.
I’ve never worn one.
That doesn’t make me any less Chinese.
To be Chinese
is to feel pride
about being a member of a race
that considers itself
the Mother Nation.
It’s knowing that your people
are resilient and hardy and crafty
and have been so for centuries.
And it’s also about
being known for having fantastic food.
let me tell you about
the other side
of being Chinese.
Let me tell you
about being called a chink
by people who don’t know
that the term comes from the sound
of the mines and railroads
that the Chinese were enslaved to work.
About Vincent Chin,
a Chinese-American whose stolen life
was only worth $3700,
two years of probation,
and no jail time for his murderers.
About the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882,
the first and only time in US history
that an entire race was forbidden
from stepping foot on American soil.
This is the hidden side of the story.
It’s the history
and the blood
and the sweat
and the tears
that people don’t see.
But it’s not a story you haven’t heard before--
--getting asked every time you introduce yourself
where you’re actually from--
--getting called a drug dealer for carrying herbal cough drops
bought from the Jing Men on Route 10--
--getting told that you aren’t special
because you’re Chinese and there are a billion more of you in the world--
This is not something you don’t know.
This is not something that hasn’t been said.
I just don’t know
when anyone will listen.