Bridge

Submitted into Contest #140 in response to: Write a story inspired by a memory of yours.... view prompt

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Asian American American Coming of Age

Now my friends, as an Asian-American, you would think that I would have often faced racism and that I would have nursed each of my broken pieces into somewhat of a nice-looking sculpture with cracked lines running all over. But in fact, it was quite the opposite. As I was growing up, I luckily did not face as much racism as I do now. But now, I hurt for the brothers, sisters, and the elderly that could've been my grandparents. Every time I scroll through another article, I know that we have lost so much, yet we continue to climb the hard rocky path in hopes of a brighter and better future. We have lost so many just because they were born with different skin colors, faces, and cultures. And, I know I am not the only one who cries and fears. I know that we are not the only ones who have also shared the pain. 

Although I did not face much racism directly from other people, I received it more backhandedly from society. I was isolated from my culture so I could fit in. I rejected my language so I could be more American. I wanted to do everything that the ideal American kids did, so I gathered all the strength that my young arms could carry and pushed myself away from my language, food, and habits. I turned my head away from what my family told me. My first language, Mandarin Chinese, was nearly forgotten. To make friends I needed to be like them, to speak like them, and to act like them. In the end, none of those actions helped. 

One of the most vivid memories that scarred me and seared itself into my mind is one of the key experiences that I have had with racism and isolation from my culture. In fact, it was not from other people but from within myself, which shows you how peer pressure works, how it feels to want to conform to a group, and what people tell you. When I was a kid, I went on a trip with family friends. And, you know how almost everything terrible starts with a game of UNO? Yeah, you heard me. I said UNO. When I was in 5th grade, I left for a road trip with my dad and family friends. As an American-born Chinese, also known as ABC, I could not speak Mandarin well anymore. I felt very awkward with these family friends since they were from China. There were the Chinese parents, their son, who was 18-years-old, and his about 20-years-old friend.

We were sitting around the wooden table where we were staying in Arizona. Now, here’s where we get to the very controversial part about the UNO rules… The way I played UNO was when you didn’t have the same color or number, you would draw one, and the next person would go. The friend, let’s call him K, played the rules differently. If you did not have the same color or number, you would draw cards from the deck until you got one. Of course, I argued for my way, and he argued for his. Everything built up, and the tension rose like a volcano on the brim of erupting. 

Everything finally erupted when I shouted, “How are you going to tell me how to play UNO when UNO is an American game?” I continued, “You’re from China, and I’m from America. I know how to play the game better than you because UNO is an American game!” 

When the words left my mouth, it was too late, and the damage had been done. I ran outside. I cried like a baby, and I felt so sorry. I realized how terrible it must have been to be on the receiving end of that and how racist it sounded. My heart and mind were burning with shame, but I apologized. How I got to that point is somewhat a mystery to me, but I hope those scenarios never happen again. The types of situations where I disassociate and disown my culture to fit in with people that do not even want me here. I hope I will never choose the people who hate me and think I’m gross over my people. 

Now that I look back on it, I realize what it meant for me as an Asian American but mostly American at the time. Every time I search my mind, I see choices that I have made. Sometimes they come back and whisper, and sometimes they shout at me. The regret emanates from my soul, but now I’ve accepted it, and I’m grateful that I have changed. Although, some actions are too late, like speaking my language. 

I think about what I see in the news. Every new story crushes my mother’s heart, then my aunt’s, then another Asian person that I know, and then my own heart. And, I ask myself, how do we live like this where we’re pushed off onto subway tracks, where we’re blatantly assaulted in public? It is then soon followed by the question, “How do we, Asian-Americans, live when we aren’t fully accepted by both countries?” Thinking about these questions, I realized that it would be a challenge for me to be Asian-American, for the people I know to be safe, and for me to connect to my culture. For me to even learn about it, so much of the history has been erased. 

You would think both of the roads have been paved for me, and that I could go either places. However, they are just even more challenging and limited now. I’m connecting to my culture again, even though it may pose dangers for me because of my location and the difficulty it is to actually feel and find the information. It’s still my home and my origin, and for that, I wouldn’t trade it for anything else in the world. To be Asian and American is a blessing and a curse. It wasn’t my choice to be born as both, but it happened. And to be a neutral bridge between parallel lines is quite an exceptional experience; It forced and forces me to adapt continuously.

April 08, 2022 15:21

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07:16 Apr 16, 2022

We experience similar tension in our country. Well expressed

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