- Posted August 26, 2013 by
San Francisco, California
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Everyday racism: Your stories
Scarred for Life
I must have been in 5th or 6th grade, so 11 or 12 years old at the time when we arrived at SFO from our family vacation to the Philippines. Dad was being scrutinized at customs at the airport. The white employee was being condescending and asked my dad if he understood English even though he was speaking to her in plain English. Dad angrily laughed at her remark as he conformed and answered her questions. It made me feel bad that my dad, an authoritative figure in my life, we being belittled right in front of his family.
On a ride to my grandmother’s house my dad got into an altercation with another drive that was white. They exchanged angry words and expletives and the white driver yelled at my dad to “go back to your country.” I was in elementary school.
A white kid teased and taunted me and other kids in elementary school. He was a racist bully. He would call me chink, made fun of my eyes by pulling the corners of his eyes to make them slant and would say things like “ching, chang, chong.” He told me to go back to my country. I’m not even Chinese.
In junior high, my friends and I were sitting on my friend’s front porch hanging out one day minding our own business. A group of older white kids walk by and start yelling and swearing at us from across the street because we looked in their direction. They referred to us as “fucking Orientals” and told us to go back to our country. We are all American born.
We had a white neighbor. She hated me and my family. My siblings and I would be terrified to walk on her property. She had a complaint about us, mostly against my younger brother, for every single little incident from disturbing and ruining her hedges to parking on her property. She’d give us dirty looks or not even look in our direction and never spoke to us.
Being in an environment of predominantly white people, I automatically feel inadequate. Reading Everyday Racism has made me realize how deeply my experiences of racism have affected me. I still have to tell myself that it’s not me, it’s them. I always feel the need to engage in conversation to prove that I am American and can speak “proper” English and can conduct myself “appropriately.” I shouldn’t have to feel that way. I feel like I’ve tried to assimilate my life so much to being or acting “white” just to feel accepted.
I used to think that some black people had chips on their shoulders because they often pulled out the race card in situations that didn’t turn out in their favor. I no longer believe that. The racism I experienced was so subtle (for lack of a better word) that I overlooked it. As evident in the Everyday Racism articles, some people have been discriminated against so blatantly and through most of their life that I no longer think that way. I don’t blame them for having their guards up in life. Racial minorities have to work twice as hard as a white person to even get noticed.