It’s been so upsetting to see the normalization of Anti-Semitism in America as a whole and even in my life.
Last year at school, a friend came into my dorm room and was showing me some videos. I could tell they were supposed to be comical, although completely missing the mark, but one of them was strictly about Jewish people. I was surprised that my friend thought the “jokes” were funny, especially because the video clearly made fun of harsh stereotypes including noses. My friend is a great person, and I don’t think anything harmful was meant by it, but my nose has always been my biggest insecurity.
My mom has asked me if I have ever been made fun of for my last name (my Great Grandfather was Jewish and the reason why my last name is such).
Thankfully I have not. It’s sad, though, because I catch myself hesitating to sign my last name on return addresses for fear that my packages or letters won’t be delivered, and I often wonder if we even get all our mail.
Being a POC at W&L means a couple things. It means having a constant chip on your shoulder, it means working to kill stereotypes day in day out, it means never truly feeling like you fit in, it means a constant fight between who you are and who the culture seems it acceptable for you to be.
While, yes, I’ve enjoyed my time at Washington and Lee, I’m always caught in this battle of acting “white” and acting such that I can be accepted.
I hear things all the time that make me feel different than a lot of my friends. I was born and raised in this country but I am treated differently and feel like an immigrant. I hear ignorant crap about Asians and my brothers and sisters of color all the time at our school, and it’s ridiculous because many kids in our school don’t even realize. People have told me all the time that I remind them of their friend back home, 100% of the time whom are also Asian, and people say all the time and assume things about who I am just because of the color of my skin. Students have called me by another Asian’s name and laughed because they made the mistake and said we “all look the same.” People think that I’ve only got into the school or received certain internships or accomplishments just because I am a minority and not because of my hard work.
People also assume that just because I’m Asian that I am smart, polite, law-abiding, and hardworking. These are not bad things, but it is bad when they are assumed just because of my skin color. I am boxed into a category and a stereotype and people assume that Asians do not struggle and therefore whites privilege is not real, and believe we’ve achieved the American Dream. If you look around, a huge majority of executive positions are all white males. Asians work hard but we reach a limit in our success. Also, this stereotype erases the fact that Asians have been discriminated against. Japanese Internment, Chinese exclusion act of 1882, mass lynchings of Asian Americans in the 19th century, the treatment of Asians because of COVID-19 are just to name a few. Also, let’s not forget that 1 in 7 Asians are undocumented.
This stereotype disregards the struggle that Asians have gone through in this country and the struggles my own family and grandparents have gone through to bring a better life for my family. Although I’ve never been physically attacked because of my skin color, I am treated as if I was born and raised in another. Let’s reflect and be careful with our future thoughts and our words.