“I can’t do it!” I cried to my fiancé. “What am I going to tell people? What will they think? Then, the real panic hit. “How am I going to plan for ten days of sub plans? We are in the middle of a giant writing unit. What am I going to do if I can’t grade or look at the kids’ work?” I was inconsolable.
But why did I, an Asian-American Korean adoptee, not find out that there was a month designated to represent my people until I was 30 years old? And even moreso, why could I not remember learning about one single influential Asian-American in school?
Seeing myself wearing this fabric mask makes it impossible for me to maintain that distance and has created a complex, complicated inner-conversation. On the one had, I am still assimilating by wearing a mask just like everyone else in America. On the other, by doing so, I embody a stereotype of Asians that so many in the world despise.
At this time in my life, kids were also cruel and my eyes became the butt of a lot of jokes. They’d often tell me to “open my eyes” or ask if I could see the same amount as everyone else. Sometimes I would beat them to the punch and say things like, “Oh, I didn’t see that. It must be because my eyes don’t open haha.” Other times, I would be annoyed and snootily respond, “I don’t know if I see less. Why don’t I pop your eyeballs out of their sockets so we can trade and find out?”
But going back to this idea of choice–I was chosen. In fact, if one thinks about it on a cruder level–I was an investment.
When I sat down to write about my experiences growing up as one of the only Asians in nearly every setting of my life, I found that the best way was to write a series of letters…
I’ve called my adoptive parents “Mom” and “Dad” for 30 years now. They are the only two people in the world who have earned those titles. I know that some people call their in-laws “Mom” and “Dad” but to be honest, I will never be one of those people.