March 30, 2021
by Mike Han, Account Director, RAPP
"I grew up in a diverse town. My school district was once featured in the New York Times for our 51% Asian-American makeup. Diversity and inclusion were town pillars. Everyone was with us -- until they weren’t.
I can still recall the pinprick feeling in my neck the time a white girl called my house and spoke to my mom (who, for the record, spoke nearly perfect English) in a stereotypical, stilted Asian accent. The sneers at lunch when I pulled out “weird,” “smelly” home-cooked meals. The playground teasing about my squinty eyes. Each aggression made me try harder to blend in.
I didn’t want to hang out with the Asian crowd. I was accused of being “whitewashed” and was called a “banana” by an allegedly superior Asian schoolmate; I was secretly grateful.
I’d blend in and feel wholly American until someone decided they wanted to call out my Asianness. It was a weird, sad cycle. This unease was formative for me -- the feeling of belonging but never actually belonging."
Continue reading with MediaPost.