Monday, September 12, 2011

On the flip side…

Today was a great day in Beibei, Chongqing, China. And since it turned to be such a great day my roommate Deanna and I expressed that we could definitely live here for a long time. Then Deanna innocently said, “I can totally live like this. The only problem is if I were to learn to speak Mandarin fluently and live here forever, people would still think that I can’t speak the language due to my physical appearance.”

It hit home for me right then.

In the United States I experience that all the time. I speak Hmong and English fluently but people (college peers, employers, normal U.S. citizens) still doubt my communication skills due to my physical appearance (my black hair, almond-shaped-eyes, tan skin and shortness). In fact, many of my peers in the states have commented on my English proficiency skills.  “Thank you.” I’d reply. But seriously it’s demeaning, it sucks and it’s offending.

The funny thing about this situation is that for the past 16 years of my life I have experienced this sort of treatment. Today for the first time this thought ignited in Deanna’s head. It’s not Deanna’s fault at all. Fact of the matter is, if you don’t experience ‘racism’ then it doesn’t exist for you.

All I have to say is, “Welcome to my world.” 

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